A smaller state*

Sometimes I like to comment on stories in the press and sometimes I decide to leave well alone. When the story broke last week about the Tory adviser pushing for 45 hours a week in school for all children I debated writing about it and then thought not. However. Gove yesterday also pushed for something similar in his zeal for making all state schools like the private sector. And then Liz Truss, another Education Minister, waded into the debate. (At the same time, she also talked about gender neutral toys – something I will be talking about later in the week. Already you can’t wait can you?)

So. Longer school days for children. Extending school nursery places and times for younger children. What do we think?

Yeah I know, it’s shite isn’t it? The main reason I wasn’t going to comment was mainly as I didn’t (and still don’t) think this will actually happen.  It will take too much money, too much teacher training, recruitment and negotiation, plus the bills for building maintenance, heating and so on.

The original proposal seemed convinced that this would win the votes of working women the country over for at least two elections. Show what he knew then. So what do parents want?

  • We want flexible working arrangements that will allow us to do our jobs at times that suit us, and that allow us time to spend with our children.
  • We’d quite like to be adequately rewarded for such jobs so that we don’t spend our spare time panicking about our budgets or having to rely on tax credits to ease the pain.
  • We’d like our nursery and school staff to be well trained and well rewarded in order for them to be happy to come to work and do their jobs well too.
  • We’d like the focus to shift from the state seeing our children only as automaton workers of the country and instead see them as people, with all the possibilities and potential of our race.
  • We’d like schools to have small class sizes that give teachers the space and creativity to tailor learning best to each pupil.
  • We’d like a bit of freedom and independence locally for schools to decide how they want to work rather than being dictated to by a distant and uncaring government.

And that’s just for starters. Also that’s just me. But a truly imaginative and willing government could make this work. It might take time, it will definitely take money and it will take determination and partnership. But none of that is beyond us and ultimately everyone wins.

Talking on Twitter this morning, I inadvertently mentioned that I could quote The West Wing in every post. A challenge. Sam: “We don’t need little changes, we need monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce, they should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free to its citizens, just like national defence. And that’s my position.”

* Warning: this blog post contains what some might call pie-eyed liberal shite. I care not.

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