Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Dear Mr Clegg and Mr Gove

Dear Mr Clegg and Mr Gove,

Meet Max. 

He is nine years old.  He is creative, slightly eccentric, highly disorganised but full of inventive ideas and curiosity about the world around him.  He dislikes reading, although he will do it if he has to.  He hates writing even more.  He's great with numbers but lacks self belief.  He's a deep thinker and often makes very profound comments about what he sees around him.  He is very intelligent.  He has a dreadful memory and might not do so well in tests.

As parents, we send our creative, playful, energetic, curious and unique five year olds to school and we hope that they will be given the opportunity to develop into the young adults they were meant to be.  We are aware of how different our children are, even within the same families, and we always want the best for them despite their differences.

Under your 'regime' Max will be tested and tested and tested to ensure that by the time he is 11, and then 18, he will fit your required mould or will be relegated to the bottom of the pile.

Your plans are dangerous for the future of our country.  Do you really want adults who are all experts in Shakespeare or prime numbers?  What about the innovators and the risk-takers?  What about those who struggle to read but are experts at thinking of the needs of others and caring for them?  You are going to have a generation of young adults who are divided between those who have given up because they have been branded as failures, and those who are so moulded by your system that they have become robots.  No creativity, no joy in learning, no discovery and exploration.  Everyone the same.

And it's not just the children who will suffer.  Teachers who love the children and desperately want to bring the best out of them in creative ways will be squashed into teaching for tests instead of teaching for a love of learning.  Why do you think there is such a lack of teachers at the moment?  Nobody wants to teach under your rule.

So, Mr Clegg and Mr Gove , what are you going to do to ensure that children like Max, who may not be academic but have other beautiful qualities, are going to be nurtured and encouraged at school?  How can we celebrate the successes of our unique children?  How can you reassure us as parents that your system is going to bring the best out of our individual children?

I very much look forward to hearing your response.

Helen Hodgson
Mother of three very different boys.

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