Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2398

Toxic tests for two year olds are one battle in a wider war

It was April Fool’s Day last week and we kept hoping that stories emanating from education watchdog Ofsted were April Fool ruses. Tragically they weren’t.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw is proposing tests for children as young as two. This is part of plans to make the early years system—wait for it—“more accountable”.

As if the surveillance system enshrined via England’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum isn’t enough to control anyone challenging the toxic “school readiness” agenda.

This is the state’s latest salvo in the war for the heart and soul of childhood.

An increasingly strident “school readiness” agenda has dominated policy discourse for many months.

Experiential learning through play is sidelined while quasi-formal cognitive learning is pushed harder onto children who are least equipped to handle it. 

Some have called this “state-sanctioned child abuse”.

What is perhaps most sickening is that policy makers claim their policies are aimed at tackling the gross inequality between children as they start school.

It’s baloney. Our obscenely unequal society is responsible for the massive ability gap between children from different classes. 

It is doing appalling wrongs to vast swathes of England’s deprived young children.

No amount of tinkering with pre-school learning in developmentally inappropriate ways is going to put that right.

Folk of all political persuasions who reject these toxic trends must do all they can to subvert and defeat them.

Our children will never forgive us if we fail to engage in this fight. 

Professionals have an ethical responsibility not to engage in practices that they know will harm their children.

Sir Michael—“principled non-compliance” here we come.

Drs Richard House and Simon Boxley, Education Studies, University of Winchester

Stop global warming, don’t just adapt

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spells out what the world faces unless we take strong action to stop the greenhouse effect.  

The sea ice is melting, the permafrost is thawing and the coral reefs are being killed. 

There are more and more extreme weather events.

The problem with the report and the government’s response is that they think it is possible to “mitigate” the worst affects and “adapt”.

“Adapting” to climate change promotes the idea that it is possible to approach climate change more positively. 

For me this is like saying, it is possible to stop a truck coming at you at 50 miles per hour by standing in the road.

This government wants to have its cake and eat it. 

Adaptation to climate change will allow big corporations to continue to profit from fossil fuels.  

This is the cause of the problem and the poor of the world will pay the greatest price.

Instead of coping with climate change we should be trying to stop it happening in the first place. 

June Jones, Huddersfield

Back independence—and fight for socialism 

A recent meeting on Scottish independence in Edinburgh showed the importance of injecting revolutionary socialist politics into the independence campaign.

To vote yes for independence is to vote for a better future. But independence on its own is not enough.

We need to get rid of the structural poverty that breeds racism.

Socialists raised the crucial question of nationalisation without compensation. 

They disagreed rightly with the Scottish National Party’s Jim Sillars, who wants a piecemeal approach to pacify the bosses.

People also raised the importance of fighting in the here and now—rather than waiting for independence. 

The recent strike victory at Edinburgh College is an excellent example of why this matters.

Ayesha Saleem, Edinburgh

Tory insult to unemployed

The smug comments of minister Esther McVey suggesting that all it takes to find a job is “hope and optimism” are an insult.

Some 450,000 long-term unemployed people will have long been stripped of hope by two years job hunting. They face a humiliating regime of CV clubs, workfare schemes, and sanctions. 

We might expect Labour to offer some hope. But its proposed “jobs guarantee” is little more than a bribe to the likes of Tesco.

Seriously tackling unemployment would mean breaking with austerity, taxing the rich and investing in real jobs providing public services. 

Mark Dunk, South east London

 Zero hours need to go

I work in the social care sector, am on zero hours and am finding it hard to live. I have bills to pay, and I need to keep warm and put food on the table.

I keep ringing my two agencies to see if there is any work for me and they are telling me, not at the moment.

I don’t know what to do and it is getting me down as I suffer with depression.I cannot go on like this. 

Zero hours contracts want scrapping and I wish the government would realise that older people and people with mental health problems need help.

Julie Ingram, Barnsley

We stood up for Yashika

It beggars belief that Yashika Bageerathi was deported.

But I don’t agree, as one New Statesman article argued, that “we” are all too complicit.

Lots of people signed a petition in defence of Yashika.

It’s the government that should be ashamed, not us.

Lucy Tyre, Leeds

Did Mark die for nothing?

Atos declared Mark Wood fit for work in spite of his having Asperger’s, phobias of food and of social situations.

He retreated into his flat and starved to death.

The question is—did Mark die for nothing?

That’s up to us, so I started a petition to demand justice for Mark. 

You can sign it at

Larry McCauley, Shropshire

Thanks for the signings

The anti-racist event in London last month was a great day with some wonderful speeches.

I took with me the new book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs Rosa Parks.

Can I through Socialist Worker thank all those who signed it for me. 

Martin Webb, Swindon

This book ban is barbaric

I think the decision to ban books being sent to prisoners is nothing short of barbaric.

It seems more like an ideological attack on self education than a measure to limit drug use.

Mathew Flynn, by email

Sign petition for Palestine

Please could you advertise this petition in support of Palestinians?

It calls on the government to openly recognise British responsibility for the plight of the Palestinian people.

You can sign it at

Sameh Habeeb, North London

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Article information

Tue 8 Apr 2014, 17:35 BST
Issue No. 2398
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