My letter to the editor of The Times, below, was published on 7 February 2017:
Nicola Woolcock reports that social workers have blocked access to boarding schools for vulnerable youngsters, and not for the first time.
On the two previous occasions, in 2006 and 2009, I was National Director of the Boarding Schools’ Association, which included almost 40 state boarding schools. The willingness of the schools to make places available for disadvantaged youngsters, offering an excellent education and, for term time at least, a ‘home away from home’, was wholehearted and compelling.
Social workers were downright hostile. Their resistance was unshakable and shocking. Great opportunities? No. Education as a route out of poverty and disadvantage to better things? Not interested. I will never forget explaining the 2009 scheme to a group of social workers in the North of England. I was met with sullen silence.
And here we are again: undeterred, the Buttle Trust and the schools have kept going. They are to be commended. These are life-changing possibilities. Offering them is worth the effort. But social workers? They say no. How dare they?
My letter published in TES Magazine, 31 October 2014
Violinist Nicola Benedetti makes an excellent case for knowledge of classical music being an integral part of education as a whole (“Children should absolutely listen to classical music”, 24 October). A step in the right direction would be to create a GCSE and/or A-level in the history of music, comparable to the history of art A-level. You do not have to be good with a paint brush or able to draw to appreciate art, and history of art fosters knowledge and love of art in people with different skills.
Present qualifications in music require performance skills, which must be learned through often expensive music lessons. It’s a form of discrimination: without private lessons, the majority of students are simply excluded.
A coherent and comprehensive history of music course would enrich the lives of many young people, whatever their financial background, and create better informed and appreciative audiences for classical music for years to come.
TES is right to draw attention to both the economic value of a British education as offered in international schools overseas and the risk to this valuable sector from the constant, noisy washing of allegedly dirty linen – the criticism of British qualifications – in public (“Why the world is buying what we’re rejecting“, 20 July).
But you might also have noted that bad publicity about our examination system will weaken the appeal of a British education to international students, who contribute hugely to our economy by attending British boarding schools, independent and state maintained.
We should be pleased that after years of grumbling about falling standards, the present bad publicity about our qualifications is accompanied by plans to fix them. And about time, too.
Hilary Moriarty, National director, Boarding Schools’ Association.
Published at http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6264970