Author Blog

Three questions to ask your prospective MP

Bill and Guy urge parents to use their votes for Ruby this week

It’s time to use your voting power in the UK. You might like to ask anyone who wants your vote these three questions:

If elected:

 

1. How will you respond to the research which shows that aspects of character such as 'grit' and curiosity count for much more in life success than school grades?

2. What do you think children can expect to gain from a 21st Century education over and beyond any examination grades they may achieve? 

3. What will you do to reduce the amount of external examinations children currently have and focus instead on giving them effective feedback to help them become more powerful learners?

 

Don’t accept waffle. Ask them to be specific. Invite them to tell them what they have already done which shows their genuine concern for the well-being of young people. Find out what they really know about how a growing number of young people and their parents are unhappy about what schools are being pressured to deliver. Share Kirsty’s and Abedi’s stories from Educating Ruby:

 

It’s getting tedious. All this pressure around exams. A lot of my friends will cry about it. My friend was shouted at for getting an A, and was told that she needed to get an A* to be considered ‘good enough’. I was told to drop art instead of history GCSE. They said that because art is not an academic subject you don’t need it. It makes you feel really down and stressed about everything.

Kirsty, Year 11, girls’ grammar school, south-west England

 

I don’t really get much benefit out of school. Until you can get your examination grades, there’s literally nothing to show for your improvements and your efforts and your time. There’s no satisfaction. The joy of learning dies down after six years and it gets a bit tedious.

Abedi, Year 11, London secondary school

 

Ask them what they think of the experiences of these two mothers we spoke to:

 

My daughter was like some spirally shape that was being pushed into a square box, and it was soul destroying. I’d take this gorgeous little girl to school, and then I’d pick up this really deflated person. She’s quite creative and dreamy. She’d look out the window, see a cloud and make up a story, but the teachers would shout at her to focus on her work … She became more insecure, more deflated, she cried more. She’d always been a good sleeper she started waking at night. She became much less confident. She gets so over-tired by the workload that she kind of zones out. So she’s not having much happy awake time … and that’s no way to live.

Sandy, mother of a child now in a London secondary school

 

As a parent you want your child to feel happy, safe emotionally, to enjoy themselves. When you see your child going into negative spirals, it is highly exhausting … What really did it for me was when she was looking out of the window, looking devastated, and she saw a rock that had cracked, and she said, ‘That’s how I feel; I’m broken inside.’

Pippa, mother of a Year 5 girl in a London primary school

 

Can you help?

There are just a few days to go before Election Day in the UK. Serious discussion about education has been almost absent. If you care about improving schools so that the Rubys who go to them are better prepared for a complex world:

 

1.  Try our three questions on your local candidates and tweet their replies.

2.  Talk to your local media about what's already going well or what you are unhappy with. We can help you if you email us here.

3.  Join us on Twitter @EducatingRuby #EducatingRuby.

 

Thank you for helping the many Rubys who are not yet well enough served by their schools.