This person tried to bring to an end safe ratios for childminders and nurseries. This person refused to listen to the evidence about school starting age, and subjects English children to the most atrociously inequitable system of results driven schooling in the developed world. This person wrote a primary history national curriculum that is oft described as a pub quiz, and he calls the academics who tried to help him do better ‘marxists’ and enemies of promise’. This person has removed democracy from huge swathes of our education system without a mandate, and handed the responsibility over to private companies with unproven track records. This person relentlessly pursued childcare policies that place stress on parents and children, commodifies childhood. This person let his pal Murdoch design tablets that they can together sell into schools to deliver ever narrower curricula. He told us that some subjects are more important that others, that the only way to teach children to read is via synthetic phonics, and he shouted down a colleague using the phrase ‘yada yada yada’ on national television. This person stops families taking a well-deserved holidays together outside prescribed times of the year. In short, every clear thinking educationalist in Europe, Scandinavia and Australasia has looked at us with incredulity as we allowed this man to govern the schooling of our children for so long. 4 teaching unions carried a vote of no confidence in him. (That’s never happened before.)
England, I know you voted for reasons other than education. I get it, I really do. No politician truly spoke to me about education during the campaigning. But really, is this what we intended? The man who gave the man I describe above a job is back in power without even breaking sweat. The man you voted in saw no reason to stop the man I describe for 4 years; twice as long as any other Education Secretary for nearly 40 years. In fact, he only ousted him when he realised that such policies might cost him the election. People voted for their small businesses. They voted for their hospitals. They voted for their welfare, or for (or against) Europe, or interest rates, their tax bill, and more besides. All very reasonable, rational and sensible. But sadly, I’m not sure anyone (or not enough ‘anyone’s) used their vote in defence of English children. I look at our two tonight asleep in their beds and I feel genuinely fearful for what lies ahead.
Maybe education policy isn’t as important as other stuff. Maybe childcare issues just don’t flick people’s switches. Fair enough. I truly don’t expect everyone to get as hot under the collar as I do about this stuff. But, but…. If we don’t get schooling right, there will be no nurses and doctors, no social carers, no innovators, scientists or researchers, nor any bus drivers, creatives, social workers, supermarket managers….. ad infinitum. If we don’t get childcare right we do lasting harm to children and break their parent’s hearts. I have absolute respect for every person who used their vote in a thoughtful to defend or support any number of causes. But is this really what we meant to do?