Dear Nicky Morgan,
I’m writing to let you know that my kids won’t be at school today.
They’re not sick.
I am though.
Sick of you not listening to the many concerned parents, teachers and education specialists who are very worried about the changes you are making to our education system. Changes which seem to me more about controlling teachers and turning schools into exam factories than they are about producing bright, happy, well-educated children.
You may think my wife and I are bad parents for keeping our kids off school, given your view that ‘keeping children home – even for a day – is harmful to their education’.
So I’d like to reassure you on two fronts.
Firstly, my children won’t actually be at home today, they’ll be out learning interesting and exciting new things. They’re actually going on an educational trip to Jodrell Bank Observatory to learn more about space. My five year-old son loves everything to do with space. He’s going to wear his astronaut’s outfit, just like Major Tim. (I do hope having a bit of fun doesn’t hamper his learning).
Secondly, I’d like to reassure you that I’m right behind your campaign to use public buildings other than primary schools for local elections and the EU referendum. You’re absolutely right when you say we shouldn’t allow the voting process to close primary schools for days at a time, doing untold harm to our children’s education in the process.
Admittedly I haven’t actually heard you say this but I’m sure you must have, right? Let me know if you need me to write to David Cameron or sign a petition on your behalf. There’s obviously a media blackout on this important message, so I’d like you to know I’m here to help whenever you need me.
Because I care about my children’s education, Ms Morgan. More than you will ever know.
I want my children to grow up to be bright, articulate, intellectually curious adults with the skills, capacity and desire to think for themselves and solve whatever problems life may throw at them.
I just don’t believe that teaching 5 and 6 year-olds to spot a split digraph or transitive verb at twenty paces but not worrying whether they enjoy, or even understand, the story they’re reading is in the long term best interests of our children’s education.
Trust me; I will push them when they need pushing, as all children occasionally do. I will expect their teachers to do the same.
I am also in favour of testing children.
Teachers must know the capabilities of the children in their care so they can manage lessons accordingly. But the SATs are so hard that teachers can’t modify their lessons according to the needs of individual children.
They’re too busy ploughing through the curriculum at an unprecedented pace, forcing children to work harder and faster, moving onto the next topic before they’ve had chance to consolidate the learning from the last one.
Teachers are getting stressed, and more importantly young children are getting stressed. How can it be helpful to raising education standards to have bright 6 year-olds feeling so stupid and worthless that they ask their parents to take them back to the baby shop, as one concerned mother reported recently?
It’s heartbreaking. And it simply isn’t right.
So it’s time to say enough is enough.
Teachers are education experts. Please Ms Morgan, let them get on with the job they love and perform every day with care, devotion and absolute professionalism.
The message from me and thousands of other concerned parents up and down the country is very clear:
Let teachers teach.
Let kids be kids.
A concerned parent