Dear Mr Cameron,
Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, has written me to ask for my support. Her letter begins,
“Every parent wants their child to have the best start in life.”
She goes on to set out her expectations of teachers and schools then asks me to support, “our plans to build a Britain that gives every child the best start in life.”
Nowhere is there any suggestion that parents should give every child the best start in life. Parents are mentioned but once in Ms Morgan’s letter; like their children, they too have been let down. Nowhere is there any suggestion that children are ever let down by their parents.
Ms Morgan makes very clear what she will not tolerate: failing or coasting schools, children leaving primary school unable to read or write, artificially inflated examination results, poor ratings in international league tables and innumeracy.
Ms Morgan says nothing about parents who fail to prepare their children for school – whose children cannot dress themselves, use a toilet, distinguish between yes and no and between yours and mine, who cannot pay attention and follow a teacher’s instructions.
Head teachers who fail are to be removed; what will happen to parents who fail?
Ms Morgan may be right when she claims that all parents want the best for their children. What is clear to caring parents is that some parents do not accept the discipline required in education, or in bringing up children. That is why independent schools, grammar schools and church schools remain oversubscribed and over-represented at the best universities and in the professions.
If you let a dangerous dog out onto the street a spell in jail is a possibility. If you raise a dangerous teenager, one who kills or robs or rapes, what are the likely consequences for you and your state pension?
Since the nineteen-eighties there has been a train of legislation, directive and regulation in an attempt to impose virtue on state-funded schools. Does it ever occur to you Mr Cameron, how much better things might have turned out had parents and families been targeted? Perhaps, if all parents did their jobs as well as schools are expected to do theirs we might no longer need a Secretary of State for Education.
Dear Mr Cameron,