I wrote a piece for the Guardian’s Education supplement this week. It’s about the welfare reforms. While we in education have rightly focused on our own battles – Ofsted, the GCSE Fiasco, curriculum, budgets, free schools, academies – and though there is still more to be said about these, I simply couldn’t write about education alone when what I am hearing of the welfare reforms is stinging so hard.
Both of my parents are currently local councillors and are already seeing the effects of the reforms on families and young people. Both of my parents also lost their jobs in the early 1980s, six weeks after I was born and just after the mortgage rates rocketed. There were weeks when my parents starved so I could continue being warm and fed. By the early 90s our town was in such desperation that I distinctly remember sitting in my French class as we learned how to say “Mon pere est sans emploi….My father is unemployed”. I remember watching what policies designed to ‘break’ our town did and I can promise you that it hurt. And it will hurt again.
So I wrote about it. Unfortunately I only get 700 words so it had to be concise, and – even more unfortunately – I couldn’t even think of a pragmatic solution or an optimistic ending. I also promise that this isn’t going to become my ‘typical’ fodder. My passion in life is education policy and research, it’s teaching, it’s being in the classroom and making a difference. But sometimes, when things are so very wrong, you have to stand up and say so. Today was that day. Normal service will resume shortly.