Here we go again! In recent months it has been suggested, among other things, that schools deal with the problems of underage sex, STDs, binge drinking, drug taking, smoking and even road safety.
Now they are expected to ease the burden on young carers, whose education often suffers under the strain of caring for disabled relatives, without the sort of help that governments should provide.
So, once more, the lone teacher, faced with a class of 30 children, many of whom have a myriad of social and psychological problems, is expected to sort them out, all between the hours of 9am and 3.15pm, as well as teaching the traditional school subjects.
Of course, one might with some justification say that if teachers had wanted to be social workers or psychologists they would have trained as such, but it certainly remains clear that we have as a society to sort out just what we expect our schools and teachers to do, for they patently can't do everything.
In the halcyon days of the 60s and 70s, when the great comprehensive dream was taking shape, it was mooted that each large local comprehensive school, offering every course to every child in their area, regardless of intellectual ability or social background, should have, actually attached to the school, a local social worker, an educational psychologist and a team of counsellors, to cope with the problems that such huge numbers of children in the same school would be bound to present.
Of course, this didn't happen. Creating comprehensives on the cheap, without purpose-built buildings and often on split sites meant that the idea of all these ancillary services was dropped and, to compensate, Teacher Training Colleges switched from people wanting to teach a "school subject" to the propagation of vague aims such as "social engineering" or "treating the whole child" or "social inclusion," turning teachers into surrogate parents or social workers, which meant that traditional school subjects such as literacy and numeracy were, necessarily, neglected.
Naturally, any teacher worth his/her salt should and will pick up in class the child who shows signs of abuse or neglect, the bullied child, the child who is too short-sighted to read what's on the board, but there must be experts on hand to whom the teacher can hand over such children.
Schools must not allow themselves to be taken over by the demands of the badly-parented, the violent and the disruptive child.
After all, you don't expect your doctor to make sure that your child has a packed lunch every day, or expect your dentist to agonise over your teenage daughter's pregnancy, so why should the child's teacher have to take responsibility for such things?
With the way teacher training and the expectations of society have gone in the last 30 years, is it any wonder that you have teachers who are unable to teach basic arithmetic to seven year-olds, or who have never heard of the greats of English literature?
Should we be surprised that hordes of children leave school at 16 functionally illiterate and innumerate?
It seems clear that these shortcomings will not be remedied until we get back to seeing schools as primarily places where school subjects are taught - French, maths, reading and writing, not sexual behaviour or drinking habits - which are extras, not the staple of the school day.
Comedian Frankie Howerd said: "Doctors doct and dentists dent."
When are we going to expect teachers to teach?