I am a serial collector of sayings; all my life I have jotted down pithy and erudite statements heard via the radio, picked up in books, etc, etc, ad nauseum. One I have been using for at least two decades seemed appropriate last week. He who changes the life of one, changes the life of a thousand. Only I felt the urge to exchange the word ‘life’ for ‘mind’.
Last Wednesday I went to London to try and change the mind of my MP. I stood on Whitehall exercising my democratic right to campaign, protest and make some noise. I felt exhilarated to be in the company of other parents, young children, professors, retired headmistresses, early years students, lecturers, writers, academics, all of whom had one simple message for those in parliament; to let the evidence about what works for children shape policy. Between us we tweeted our way through the day, raising profile for the Too Much Too Soon organisation. For me there were many moving moments. Talking with a father, who was also a primary school teacher, who had come along simply because, having been on strike the week before, he wanted a better answer for his two and a half year old daughter. Watching six children of different ages carrying our sizeable banner along Whitehall and up to Old Palace Yard. Witnessing people I’d only just met but have admired for much longer deliver a 7,500-strong petition to No 10. Seeing our collective together on the steps in front of George V’s statue for a photo. Hearing stories of members of our group who passed Michael Gove in the hall ways of Westminster and who made sure he got one of our leaflets.
In Committee room 6 we listened to some eloquent and informed individuals who shared their concerns about the condition of British childhood, speaking with a quiet authority, notable for being in stark contrast to the tone of much that emanates from the DfE. I had cause to dip out of these proceedings to engage with my MP and her researcher. I’ll write more about that in the future when I am more certain of the outcome of our discussions, but I am optimistic that I may be able to, at the very least, show her why my ambition to change her mind matters so much.
The TMTS campaign has undoubtedly gathered momentum as a result of the events last Thursday. Just this week, members of the group have had their views sought as Baroness Morgan, Chair of Ofsted argued, without an evidence base, for yet more overtly formal education for ever younger children. Progress is being made. To paraphrase Richard Jerrard of R4 Today programme observed on twitter today, there is a ‘chink in the armour’.
When one of your very own Tory predecessors claims that the base of your educational policy is dangerously ideological and too narrowly based upon personal experience, it might be time to listen, Michael. We may not share much else with Ken Baker, but we think he makes a very strong point, and we wont stop until you do.