My Catchphrases

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Saturday Spotlight: Guest Post: Class Divide and Pupil Referral Units by Melvin Burgess

Kids in PRU’S (Pupil Referral Units)

One of the characters in my new book, Kill All Enemies, is Chris – the middle class kid who just won’t do any homework no matter what. In real life, Chris never got to a PRU – mainly down to his parent’s, I think. IN fact, middle class kids are something of a rarity in PRUs.

“The middle classes tend to bring up their children quite well,” said one deputy head of a PRU in the North West I spoke to. Unsurprisingly, Most of his clients were from poor communities. More surprisingly, at the other end of the spectrum, you also got a fair few rich kids. He mentioned a couple to me – one lad who was so spoiled, his mother was unable to take any measures against him at all. She cleaned his room, cooked his food and in return he treated her like what she was - a skivvy. At one point, she took him out of the PRU, where he was making some progress, and sent him off to an expensive private boot camp in the US. He came back with an Native American name, a fake American accent, and as bad as ever.

Other rich kids suffer from the opposite – not too much attention but too little. Busy parents sometimes don’t have enough time for their children. They spend a fortune on them and wonder why they’re not doing well. Other teenagers end up at PRU’s simply because they can’t take the pressure ladled out to them both at school and at home. I met several rich girls who were expected to get about 12 GCSE’s, all A*’s and who were just gibbering wrecks by the time by the time the exams came round. They could be sorted out quite simply, by cutting the GCSE’s down to five and managing parental expectations.

So the poor and the rich tend to make the worst parents, middle class readers will be happy to discover. But not all problems are caused by bad parents, and from time to time you find young people who seem determined to go their own way and do their own thing, no matter what anyone says or thinks.

The model for Chris was one these. Good parents – I know the mother myself. In fact, it was her who told me about it. Her son didn’t end up in the PRU, but he very easily could have if his mum, in the end, hadn’t got fed up with all the pressure and called the school off his back. But in the meantime, he had practically every punishment his parents and the education system could call down upon his head.

I used the stories she told me as a basis for the character Chris in Kill All Enemies; more about him later on the blog tour…


Title: Kill All Enemies

Author: Melvin Burgess
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 1 Sep 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon
Everyone says fourteen-year-old BILLIE is nothing but trouble. A fighter. A danger to her family and friends.
But her care worker sees someone different.
Her classmate ROB is big, strong; he can take care of himself and his brother.
But his violent stepdad sees someone to humiliate.
And CHRIS is struggling at school; he just doesn't want to be there.
But his dad sees a useless no-hoper.
Billie, Rob and Chris each have a story to tell. But there are two sides to every story, and the question is . . . who do you believe?

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad I am neither poor or rich! Although my parenting skills are not wonderful. I can't wait to read this book. I believe it is next on my pile.


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