To The Minister of Education, The Hon Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun

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A new school year has dawned and parents no longer need worry about who’ll look after their youngsters while they’re busy working. As children will no longer have to sit the CPE, it also means they won’t have the agony of so much revision. After all, it was often unclear whether it was the parents or the children who were being tested – perhaps influenced by the ancient Athenian law that a son need only care for his aged father if he’d received a good education. Parents may now have time to consider other aspects of their responsibilities and engage in the odd conversation about the appropriate use of smartphones and boyfriends.

Assuming the new grade VI tests will no longer produce a rat race, no doubt you’ll shortly be making private tuition illegal throughout primary education, as it will no longer serve any useful purpose. Teachers can wait until grades VIII and IX to make a killing. Of course, while you surely feel that Dr B’s claim – that school selection will be as dependant on the new exam as it was on CPE results – is merely sour grapes, it does remain unclear how different the new PSAC will turn out to be. Continuous assessment is all very well but how will it work in practice? With the way some teachers have exploited the potential for private tuition, earning more in their sculleries than in the classroom, what’s to prevent the more enterprising amongst them from seeing the new system as a further business opportunity?

The most difficult thing to teach is ethical values although the best way is that they simply exist within the home and school, not to mention the Assembly. As the lead needs to come from the top, it might be useful to run a course for MPs on what being elected to serve actually means. Like supermarkets, everything’s become self-service. As the press already conducts its own continuous assessment of parliamentarians, the Chief Mortal could be a useful resource person.

Meanwhile, are you ready for the impending backlash against transgender secondary education? Although we ancients would have considered mixed schooling most unnatural, let’s admit there are arguments both ways. So isn’t this an area where parents could be allowed to choose between single-sex or mixed schools rather than be subjected to the social engineering of the nanny state? Mind you, that subject may set off a backlash at the foot of my column. I won’t mind, providing the discussion’s rational. Not that there’s much hope of that in an age cursed by political correctness on the one hand and ducks and trolls on the other.

So many attitudes go unchallenged. Papers uncritically report a Union demand that appointments in schools should be discussed with them. Why? It’s not their role any more than yours. Let’s hope you don’t still scrutinise appointments as your predecessor used to do. Meanwhile, many nettles still await your grasp – but do don some protective clothing before you’re reported to the Ministry of Labour for health and safety breaches. Still, you may not mind as you seem to love bureaucracy. How else can you explain the need to refer to the Ministry before a social worker’s allowed into a school to talk about drugs or social media? Why can’t heads make such decisions? The way schools are administered is as important for children’s education as the syllabus. Not that anyone seems to have noticed.

Yours sincerely,

Epi PHRON

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