Children should be taught in schools from the age of two
I thought the headline in the print edition of The Independent was an April Fool’s joke, but then I checked the date.
The story refers to a declaration from Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief schools inspector and head of Ofsted. Whether he has ambitions for total domination of the country’s children is up for you to decide.
I mean, what’s next? “Madam, after you come home from the delivery room, please drop your baby at the nearest academy. It needs an education.”
It’s time to question the drive to institutionalise children at an ever earlier age. Of course, it’s always done with the stated intent of helping. The Independent article refers to a recently released report on early years education that said, “poorer children can be up to 19 months behind in important skills such as reading and numeracy”, implying that with more formal education earlier on, children would be on a level playing field.
Yet that is a meaningless goal – it’s just a way to cloak a power-grab in expertise. “Give us total command over your child and we’ll give your child a proper education” is a deal not to be trusted.
In The Guardian, Sir Michael turns up his nose at people like me who dare to question his authority. “Let us not pander to those people who think children’s childhoods are being stolen.”
Gosh, Sir Michael. The concept of protecting childhood has been championed ever since the Victorians. Why do you want to reverse that?
Sending two-year-olds to school is a radical step and it’s dangerous that it seems there is nothing to stop the combined force of Ofsted and the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. Why are we so readily willing to be subservient to these people?
We’re not getting a well-rounded opinion of what’s good for children. A single report, from a government official, should not have so much influence.
The scarcity of opinions in the field is what gives these despots more authority than they deserve. So where is everybody? Why aren’t more teachers speaking up?
The answer became more apparent to me during the recent Riesco debate during which the collection was described as a popular educational resource, that many teachers in the borough brought pupils there, and so forth. Yet few teachers came forward publicly to defend or to support the sell-off. Why the silence?
I speculate it’s the discomfort of facing fellow teachers and headmasters after vocalising an opinion. Schools can be social pressure cookers in which to work, particularly for people who are trying to change things or who are willing to voice an unpopular idea or observation.
But I think the need is so great that we can no longer stand the silence. So much is happening in Croydon in regard to our youth and the nation’s educational policies that we need to hear from them. Inside Croydon has in the past published contributions from teachers, parents and students which has protected the identity of the author(s) (I am informed that “Gene Brodie” may even be a made-up name, and that more than one Croydon teacher has written under that pseudonym). This website will continue to do so, in order that, once verifying the source, the actual participants in education get to express themselves.
I’d also like to see a yearly Croydon Teachers’ Summit where we get to know individual teachers and start to hear other voices besides Gove’s, Ofsted’s and the occasional speech from the teacher’s unions. Teachers may be shy to come out of the woodwork but the greater risk is powerlessness. The public also needs a better picture of what’s going on behind school doors in Croydon, particularly in light of the recent spates of knife crime and gang-related violence.
People appear afraid to speak out and the education Establishment is using considerable political muscle. Just read the Guardian article to see how Sir Michael Wilshaw is stirring up class tribalism. Why’s he doing that? Because it’s a classic strategy to gain power. Divide and conquer.
Here’s the beef: Westminster wants to supervise toilet-training and nursery songs. It’s a grim form of government control and we have every right to protect our children from such an intrusive force.
Coming to Croydon
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- Private Peaceful, Charles Cryer Theatre, Apr 23-26
- Alison, A Rock Opera, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 23-26
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Stop The Incinerator Beer and Bingo fund-raiser, Apr 28
- Hauntology – the architecture of Croydon, Apr 5-May 2
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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