Education reform: a letter to Mr Gove…

Why Gove’s version of education reform is madness:

Dear Mr Gove,

I am enclosing a photograph of my bags on the playground this morning:

"education reform and its effect on mental health"

Today I have my violin lesson, followed by my swimming lesson. I will have to make sure I brush my hair really well after swimming, ready for my school photo. I definitely cannot afford to mislay anything en route to the pool, or Mummy will never let me hear the end of it! You cannot see what is in my school bag, so I will clarify it for you: library books – I take home 2 every week; my topic book – I’m writing a scrapbook about my holiday, including a business plan for the first ever Dolphin Swim Centre in the UK. After school I have piano.

Just to put this in perspective – I’m 8. It’s fine though, I’ve always been an active girl, and I thrive on the challenge and variety of my numerous tasks and interests. In general, I’m a happy child, with what some might call a good sense of humour.

I like to get stuff right, and I try pretty hard at school, if my teachers engage my interest in a subject. You know, interweave a point of difference, relevancy and fun into my learning? When I’m having fun I can sometimes even concentrate on the bigger picture for longer than your average politician. I’m certainly learning to focus on the broader issues, and not waste all my time firefighting the numbers that bother me in the classroom. Perhaps, Mr. Gove, we could get together over a healthy lunch sometime and I could talk you through how that works?

I’m going to let you into another side to my personality though. My mum is a bit of an academic at heart. Straight A student, attention to detail, rarely satisfied with “good enough.” She’d probably make a great Education Secretary, now I think of it. Anyway I digress… My mum helps me with my homework and my music practice. On a good day, when I’ve slept well, and had time to chill out with my friends, or eat dinner with Daddy, this works quite well.

On a bad day though, I tend to get very frustrated with myself. Do you ever get that Mr. Gove? Those days when you’ve worked really hard, received a certificate in the House of Commons for some spectacularly good work on your enterprise project, or your spellings,Β andΒ progressed a level in your tap class? You see, the piano practice can sometimes be the final straw after a long hard day. I get angry with myself for not being brilliant all of the time. I take my stress out on my family. Sometimes I even take my stress out on myself and do this.

I am not part of an “agricultural economy” and yet still I thrive. In fact, I have no interest in gardening at all – way too much mud, and an inordinately high risk of crunching on a snail. Do you see, Mr. Gove, the big words that I am capable of using? I learned those from my Mum & Dad, and my school.

So forgive me, Mr. Gove, for my tiny little rant but NO! I do not want to go to school for 10 hours a day! Give me a break! I’m a smart girl, but I’m still a child. I need to play occasionally. I need time to chat to my friends about random crap, and watch a bit of telly. I need to hang out with my family and learn about who I am, as opposed to what I can do with my intellect. I get a cold at the end of every term; I find the holidays quite useful to rest and recover my immune system. Would that be alright with you?

Or maybe you don’t really care. I’m doing fine at school, no language difficulties, my grades are good, and I can squeak a couple of tunes out on musical instruments. I pretty much do what my teachers ask most of the time, and I get along well with the majority of my classmates. So perhaps you don’t care about helping me to be the best person I can be. As long as I have an advanced Masters degree in computer science to go with my concert-standard musical repertoire, like my Chinese colleagues, that will be alright?

Or maybe I’ve got it wrong and you’re putting aside a nice stash of money to pay for all the therapy me and my peers will require if we make it through your version of the education system?

Yours in anticipation of a sensible reply,


MummyBarrow I’m linking this post to Mummy Barrow’s Ranty Friday. While I’m at it, I thought you might like to know what teachers think, as well.

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47 thoughts on “Education reform: a letter to Mr Gove…”

  1. Yes! Yes!! YES!!! Brilliant and so eloquently put. But I expect he’ll completely ignore it, spend a small fortune commissioning “studies” and drafting “plans” before it all gets swept under the carpet like the exam reforms. With a bit of luck Mr Gove will be swept away too…

  2. I think you will be waiting a long time for the sensible reply. We live in hope. Mainly of him leaving office. Great piece, will RT right now.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with you GG, and I’m certain that Grace would too. I think that you children are under enough pressure to perform already. You don’t need anymore x

    • That’s my feeling too. So much pressure on kids these days. I had nothing like it when I was at school and I still had an amazing career

  4. I wouldn’t mind if they added P.E. every day and more music and art, but not 7.30-5.30 FFS, that’s ridiculous. They’ll never get to play.
    Maybe he never had lovely memories of summer holidays and I do appreciate that it’s harder for full-time working mums, but our kids need sun, they need play time, they need Vitamin D.
    As a therapist I can definitely say that my workload will grow in 20-30 yrs time as these kids struggle with the ramifications of this.

    • I think more subsidised structured extended schools activities would absolutely be a good idea so that working parents could afford useful, educational childcare. But a compulsory 10 hour day just penalises those children and parents who already manage to do a good job with their families. But hey, what’s new.

  5. I dread to think about what future our children and grand children will have, if these idiots get their own way. Even I would struggle with 10 hours a day in a classroom! Makes me wonder how many people would resort to home schooling, if this was put in to practice.

  6. Kids need to play. Through play, they can process their day, relieve their stress, so 10 hours of school, is not a good idea.

    • When she first started schooli t was all about learning through play. He stamped that out pretty quickly. Even if he goes I can see our education system being in complete chaos in a coup,e of years πŸ™

  7. I am sure there will never be a sensible reply from Mr Gove. What a brilliant letter πŸ™‚

    My sister is 9 years old and has so much homework to do on a weekly basis. Probably a bit more than I was getting at Secondary School. I never had any homework in Junior School.

  8. Do you know what my biggest concern is? When will kids have a chance to be bored? Because, you know what, its’ an opportunity for them to explore, discover and use their imagination. And I have enough bags to carry and ferrying about to do as it is!
    Well said GG x

    • That’s a really good point I hadn’t even considered, but you’re totally right. Without practice at filling your own time constructively, we’re going to end up with a nation of stimulation junkies always looking to be occupied by someone else. Which leads to over-eating and substance abuse…

  9. My question to Mr Gove ‘Why strive for second best?’. Surely we should head for the world leaders in education, Finland, where they play more and do less school!

    • Exactly! I made the point today on Twitter that if it’s about turning out better individuals for Britain’s economy then it’s the quality and structure of lessons that needs to be right, not the duration!

  10. Mummy for Education Secretary! No, make that: Mummy for Prime Minister!

    Seriously though, I think that this is a really good letter. I hope you have actually sent it to Mr Gove.

  11. Ah if only Mr Gove would LISTEN to children. What he is proposing wouldn’t benefit any child….maybe you should post this off to him for real and see if he responds? Great post!

    • Thank you, I’m going to up the ante and get it to the people who make the decisions now that I’ve had such great support for it online πŸ™‚

  12. So well put, this subject makes my blood boil and my daughter hasn’t even started school yet. Childhood is fleeting and though school education is important, so is the kind of learning that takes place away from school, by experiencing life as a child, doing fun things and not being bound by endless rules and timetables – and as you so rightly say, downtime is essential. What planet is this man on?

  13. I couldnt agree more.

    Why can’t children be children anymore? Why can’t they be allowed to have summer holidays full of day dreams and learning to live life?

    Since when has school been the be all and end all?

    We are churning out pawns that tick boxes / meet SATs targets for the government. We are not allowed produce well rounded children who have time to do the things we want them to be able to do anymore.

    Gove has got this massively wrong.

    • The thing is, I worry that this will be pushed through anyway, to assuage the sentiments of the so-called disadvantaged in our schools, to the detriment to those who are not. Knee-jerk politics will wreak havoc on our children and on society as a whole in future!

  14. Very well said. Also, some mummies actually like spending time with their children, we don’t want them institutionalised from morning til night.
    ps – gardening is quite fun too, give it a try, mud is good!

  15. Stumbled across this completely by accident but I genuinely couldn’t agree with you more.

    Very well said and so eloquently written! xx

  16. At risk of sounding like the 43 people before me, this is darn good. Thank you for using your fantastic blogging style to lob a hefty, hearty comical commentary at Mr Gove. If only he’d read it. Maybe he actually will. Thank you.

  17. I love spending time with my kids out of school and the holidays are perfect to way to rekindle our bond together.Day trips and lazy days together visiting places that schools can’t cater for and seeing family when there are no time constraints.I can’t see how possibly it would be beneficial to children, parents or to our society.


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