THE policy intervention by Damian Hinds was noteworthy because it was one of his more significant since he became Education Secretary in January last year – most of his public appearances have been to defend Theresa May over her handling of Brexit.
Yet the call by Mr Hinds for a greater focus on character-building activities such as sports, dance and drama simply showed the extent to which the Cabinet minister is out of touch with Yorkshire schools and young people.
Contrary to his view that pupils from more affluent backgrounds are more resilient because their families can afford private education, or extra-curricular activities, this intervention does a disservice to all those students who have been, and continue, to be educated in the state system.
The overwhelming majority will mature into model citizens because of their character – and the values instilled into them by their families and teachers. They’re also resourceful because they’ve had to strive for higher academic standards while the Government has, at the same time, been squeezing school budgets.
And, because these financial constraints have also coincided with the workload of teachers of rising, most schools simply don’t have the staff, time or resources to provide the character-rich environment that Mr Hinds clearly enjoyed at his grammar school before he joined the University of Oxford where he became President of the Oxford Union. As such, the Minister’s homework this weekend is very simple – to explain how his good intentions can, and should, be implemented in practice.