She has reiterated calls by Robert Halfon, chair of the Education Select Committee, for a 10-year plan for the sector that is comparable to the country’s ambition when the welfare state was created. And Dame Rachel wants the Prime Minister and Chancellor to include children in every speech to ensure that their needs are placed “right at the top” of the Government’s agenda.
She is right to do so. Our young people have, on the whole, responded magnificently to Covid and embraced home schooling with maturity. Equally, there are youngsters who were already struggling before the pandemic struck and who will find it even harder to catch-up without intensive support.
But the fact that Dame Rachel feels the need to put down such a strong marker, as new figures on school exclusions are published is, regrettably, a sorry reflection of the Department for Education’s haphazard leadership under Gavin Williamson and his top team.
Rather than being integral to plans to tackle regional inequalities, the DfE has lurched from one crisis to another and finds itself bereft of confidence. Education is fundamental to the country’s future success. Today’s students are tomorrow’s wealth-creators, innovators and scientists. Now Boris Johnson must recognise this by giving the DfE the fresh start that it needs – starting with a 10-year plan to properly invest in the next generation.
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