This is a picture of me and my friend Maggie.
We’re both Councillors.
One of us is a senior manager in the NHS. One isn’t.
One of us drives a rather nice car. One doesn’t.
And one of us can rent a home from the estate agent we’re standing in front of. One can’t
Maggie is the senior manager. Maggie has the nice car. But only I can rent the home.
That’s because I’m white and Maggie is black.
It’s a year since I registered this website. In that time over 100 Sure Start Centres have closed.
I’ve blogged again and again about what a shortsighted tragedy this is. But the problem continues to worsen.
I delivered this speech to the Brent School Governors’ Conference yesterday. It received a warm response, so I thought I’d share it online…
This Conference is about “The challenge of being challenging.”
But what do we really mean by challenge?
Scrutinising data, driving progress, pushing improvement. These all matter hugely.
But for me, the ultimate challenge is to uphold values in education.
Education is the most powerful force in the world. It can solve all our greatest problems: poverty, discrimination, cynicism, despair.
Education is vital for everyone, but it is those at the very bottom who need it the most. Those without wealth, connections or privilege. Those from broken homes or devastated countries.
Education is how the down-trodden can achieve a better future.
I went to school in Lincolnshire where we still have the traditional Eleven Plus.
One of my friends at Primary School always wanted to work in TV. She failed the Eleven Plus. The next day I overheard in the Post Office: “She’ll never be able to work in TV now, she’s failed the Eleven Plus” – to murmurs of agreement.
This is what the Eleven Plus does. It carves society into winners and losers; it emburdens children with social judgement – and all before they’re old enough to watch a Bond film at the cinema.
My old Primary School
Please take a look at my blog on Labour List: It’s time to fight for Sure Start.
My first job paid £3.55 an hour.
I worked the nightshift in the Walkers Crisps factory in Lincoln. We got a bit more at weekends, rising to £4.55 for the gruelling 12 hour Sunday night shift: 6pm till 6am.
This was fine for me: I was a student and just needed enough for a year’s worth of beans on toast. I also got a full grant and this was before tuition fees – but that’s another story.
I started at Walkers the same day as Steve. He had just had a baby daughter and I used to wonder how he could provide for her on £3.55 an hour.
Every Quaver in the world is made in Lincoln