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Monday, January 08, 2007

A little local difficulty

As a Government Minister it seems that Ruth Kelly has a problem with Labour Party principles. First, it was her religious beliefs and alleged membership of Opus Dei that put her at odds with some of the equalities agenda she is now charged with delivering. Now, it appears that her natural concern for her child's education has led her to join other colleagues in abandoning the state education sector and using a £15,000 a year fee-paying school instead.

Those more uncharitable than myself might suggest that a former Education Secretary giving up on the state education sector for her own child is the best possible judgement on her success in the job.
And those more charitable than yourself would have pointed out that the child in question has special educational needs, that the move was discussed with the LEA, and following those discussions, this outcome was deemed as the best for the child in question.

This attack on Ruth Kelly really is pathetic. She is a parent first, and a politician second.
She's done the right thing for her child, I just wish that politicians would now accept that no amount of money splashed out on gimmicks will save the state education sector, but we need real choice and the ability to supplement the costs of education if we wish.

Think about all the poorer, but clever children, who could then get the education Mrs Kelly's salary can give her children then.

Then again, principle and government rarely go hand in hand, it was this government which removed hope from so many pupils by axing the assisted place scheme as a peace offering to the left.
Unfortunately anonymous, she is not just any politician, she is a former education secretary. I perfectly accept that she has a right to do what is best for her child. My point is that there are many people who cannot afford to do so and that this is something she could have put right at Education Secretary.
You’d attack her either way though, would you? You attack her for paying for the child to go to this private school but you’d probably also attack her if she’d taken up the offer of the LEA to pay the fees on their behalf (which has been reported, but was rejected by Ruth Kelly).
Yes, if you believe her spin, which I dont. I am attacking her for what she did not some hypothetical other scenario. She has a perfect right to make choices as a parent but she also has to take responsibility for the education system that led to her having to go private. That is the downside of her having been a minister.
I have been in a similar situation but have not had the funds to do the same. However, if I had would I send my child to a private school? you do whats best for your child, don't you? My LEA did not have a school that could cater for my childs needs but a school well outside the area did, why are politics getting in the way here? surely isn't the welfare of the child paramount, or does it not count if your parent is a high rating politician who happens to be Labour? Am I a Labour fan? no, does it matter? no. Its the child that matters and ensuring that their needs are met, and if need be at a cost. Hundreds more children who have special needs and whose parents are fighting their LEA boards to get their children the help and education they are entitled to would say well if she's got the money to do it then good on her. If any parent has ever faced the fight that lies ahead of them when their child is either born or is diagnosed with an SEN then they would probably understand why she made that decision. On this occasion I will support her, on many more of her decisions, never in a million years!
I am not criticising her personal decision, just putting it into a political context in respect of her role as a Government Minister.
What does her role as a Government Minister got to do with it? If the child was born into a Catholic religion as well as had SEN's does it mean it has to go to a Catholic school which has SEN resources? The point here, is, in the best interests of the child not the Governments policy or the nations opinions.
Let ujs not be naive about this. There is a clear issue of public policy here around the provision of publicly funded services for children with additional educational needs. She was the Minister and so she needs to take responsibility for that failure.
Yes, she has or her child has fallen 'victim' to her own and Labours policy, hypocrisy? Damn right, but in the end doesn’t that always happen to politicians-that they do nothing until it directly affects them and their family, but I guess thats politicians for you!!
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