Deliverance Day minus 10. Children have the right to be educated by his/her parents, who have a prior and fundamental right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. This is enshrined in international law and States have a duty to provide education for children up to the age of fourteen. After that age there is discretion. Implicit in this right of parents to choose is a responsibility on the government to facilitate that choice. While all the main parties claim to uphold this parental right there has been a trend by both Conservative and Labour governments to impose a more uniform and rigid regime on all schools under their control. The national curriculum has forced schools to conform to structured teaching that leaves little room or time for individuality. Home schooling is frowned on and to be discouraged.
Even schools that are outside the state system are regulated. So although parents have a choice, the options available are limited. In a country that prizes diversity, when it comes to education the rule is conformity. Labour have tightened the screw and loaded the curriculum in an exercise that amounts to social engineering and thought control. Their last gasp effort was the proposal to impose a strict liberal sexual education indoctrination throughout all key stages and removal of a parent’s right to withdraw their children from the lessons. The population control advocates have lobbied to this end and complained loudly when Ed Balls had to ditch the proposals when parliament was dissolved. He has promised that if Labour is returned to government, he will reinstate the proposals. The LibDems have supported Labour on this issue and would be more extreme.
It would seem that the Conservatives are the only hope for a changed attitude and a relaxed approach that gives schools room to be innovative in their teaching methods and flexible with the curriculum. It is also hoped that religious schools, and in our case Catholic schools, would be allowed to teach in accordance with their faith and morals. There is a real problem with this scenario and that is Michael Gove who would be the Education Secretary in a Conservative government. There is a fear that he has some animosity towards the Catholic Church. Michael Gove appearing on the BBC, to debate education with Ed Balls, made an anti-Catholic comment related to the abuse scandal, which was gratuitous and out of context. The interviewer was taken aback. This caused Ed Balls to object and given his record that indicates how over the top the remark was. When Ed Balls starts defending the Catholic Church against the likely next Education Secretary we should start worrying.
This is not just a matter of an individual being out of tune with the leadership of his party. On the 23rd April David Cameron in an interview with Jeremy Paxman was asked about sex education in Christian schools. Conservative supporters say that he is a liberal Conservative but not liberal about the sexual revolution. The interview showed that he is very close to the Labour and LibDem position. Paxman asked him if he was in favour of faith schools being able to teach sex education as they liked. Cameron replied that was not right. The Conservatives had voted for what the Government suggested at the end, which was proper sexual education. Paxman then asked him if faith schools should be free to teach that homosexuality is wrong, abortion is wrong, and contraception is wrong. Cameron said No, and the Government discussed this and came up with a good idea, which is to say that we wanted a clearer path to sexual education across all schools, and faith schools were not to be given any exemption but would be able to reflect some of their own faith in the way that it was taught. He added that they must teach proper lessons in terms of gay equality and also combat homophobic bullying in schools. In making these comments he confirmed that he is part of the liberal consensus that is intolerant on these matters, which are considered normal and cannot be challenged and do not need to be justified.
There is nothing whatsoever to choose between the main parties on their education common ground.
Resurgence has not developed its education policy beyond the basic right of parents to choose the education of their children. However, it is a solid foundation on which to build and logically leads on to a number of conclusions. We also need to take a long-term view and start putting a detailed plan in place starting with under-seven provision. We will also be looking to bring in some of the ideas put forward by our Euro-Solidarity partners. For example Solidarity, in Italy, supports the first child policy. This helps large families to meet the financial costs of education. Everyone pays for their first child but the higher education of younger children is then free. The idea that formal education should only start at age seven has been proved to deliver results on the Continent. If schools are to be inventive as well as innovative they must have the freedom to try to be different. The objective of excellence must be achieved by introducing a total quality culture. Second best will not be acceptable.