Dear Mr Hunt,
Trust is at the heart of relationships. When you give someone your trust, you boost them up. You send them the message that ‘I have faith in you‘ or ‘I believe you can do this’. Sometimes you give someone your trust and they let you down. But if you never give them your trust in the first place, there is no way they can ever prove themselves trustworthy. A lack of trust is corrosive to the bonds we form with other people, and it is this lack of trust that I would like to talk about in this letter.
When I send my children to school for their education, I have to trust that the teachers will do their best for my child. I don’t expect them to be super human, I’d just like them to be good, solid, kind, intelligent people, who are in it for the right reasons. At the moment, every policy announcement seems to scream out: ‘we don’t trust teachers or schools’. Our children are tested to provide data with which the government can punish ‘failing’ schools. Schools are ‘taken over’, sometimes despite the protesting voices of the local community of teachers, parents and children. I’d like you to build our trust in teachers and schools, and you won’t do that if you hint that they are not to be trusted. The accountability tail is wagging the dog so hard that all its legs are going to fall off. For pity’s sake just choose the right people, train them well, keep them updated, and support them in a very difficult job.
Parents want to be trusted too. I understand that some parents are not trustworthy, and that government must play a role in protecting children. But again the policy message of the day seems to be: ‘we don’t trust parents either’. Schools are expected to tell parents they are bad, provide meals for infants and fine us for any term time absence. I was kind of hoping for a happy place with a broad, balanced curriculum that helps children learn and develop. You may have to support some parents in helping their children learn, behave or be healthy, but please don’t Nationalise Parenting.
Here’s the thing. Trust works both ways. In 2015 I have to make a decision. Who do I trust to have the same vision of the world as me? Which party wants a good local school for every child? One that offers a broad, balanced education that takes account of children as individuals? My trust has always been in the Labour Party. But right now, I’m not so sure. You could give me a reason to have a little faith, by saying that you trust most of us to get it right, most of the time.
#blogsync January 2014