In recent times, blame for the chaotic state of so many schools and the chronic underachievement of so many children has been firmly laid at the door of parents.
There are, however, two elements to the equation of what makes a successful school: (i) well-behaved children with responsible parents and (ii) good teachers, and this second element to the equation has, to my mind, received far too little attention.
Of course, the Government's complacent boast that teaching is now "an all-graduate profession" is meant to make us assume that teachers could not possibly be at all to blame when little worthwhile activity or learning takes place in some of our classrooms. Or could they?
Teaching, contrary to popular myth, is a very demanding job and, given all the adverse publicity about the mayhem in the classroom, fewer and fewer well-educated people are willing to take it on.
Look at supply teachers, for example. On any given day there are 25,000 supply teachers ( 15 per cent of the workforce) in schools, often several in the same school. Many of these will have been recruited on the basis of "any port in a storm" and will be taking classes in subjects they are not qualified to teach: they will, in essence, be little more than expensive childminders.
In some schools, as supply teachers drift in and out, staying for a day here, a week there, children will have no tuition at all in some subjects for weeks on end and will, unsurprisingly, lose interest.
It would be interesting to know how many teachers are regularly teaching subjects which they are not qualified to teach. Permanent, full time teachers are often asked to fill their timetable with "a bit of junior English" or "a form of Maths, or French," and how many biology teachers, I wonder, are teaching the physics and chemistry elements of the "Balanced science" GCSE course?
I would bet that if every teacher was forced to give up teaching subjects that they had not studied to university level, the education system would grind to a halt.
Then we have those unfortunate people, often well-qualified academically, who are temperamentally unsuited to teaching, but who soldier on regardless. They can't control the pupils, they do not have the strong personality and presence that inspires respect and they are doomed to suffer the indignity of nicknames such as "the weed".
They can never succeed as teachers because the children will never take them seriously.
Add to these those teachers who are employed by desperate schools when they have already been sacked from other schools, or those who don't mark the children's work, or lose it, or decamp from a school taking the GCSE coursework folders of his pupils with them.
Chris Woodhead once famously said that 10,000 teachers were incompetent and was much reviled by the teachers' unions for saying so.
When you think that all the above examples are only a minute fraction of all the examples that anyone in education could give you, you may think that until this deadwood, this army of "fillers-in" is banished from our schools and well qualified, intelligent and wholly professional people are brought in, no real improvement is possible.