It is hard to believe but sending two year olds to school, turning school into day care and decriminalising cannabis are all policies to find their way to the top of the political agenda. Two of our most senior politicians. Elizabeth Truss, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare and Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister are batting for them.
Mr. Clegg has already played nanny to 92,000 two year old tots who thanks to his taxpayer funded £755,000,000 initiative are getting 15 hours free daycare (away from their mothers of course). Elizabeth Truss having offered over £750 million in child care tax breaks, having advocated a school start at 2, now wants schools turn into all day childcare centres – to free their mothers to work and to give opportunities to infants.
So she may kid herself.
Accomplished though these Ministers both may be, they have not thought through their revolutionary policies at all. No SWOT (Strengths/Weakness/Opportunity and Threats) analyses on separating infants from mothers, on conflating childcare with education or on normalising drug use are to be seen.
They need to be.
Common sense should tell any right minded responsible adult that it is hard enough for a four year old to sustain a full day in a school let alone a two year old who has neither the physical capacity or emotional development to cope. It should tell anyone that consigning children from 2 – 18 into the same ‘all through school’ education battery (yes combining nursery, primary and secondary is what is now being planned for academies – soon no doubt to start with daycare) will imprison not stimulate children.
Today’s politicians seem to see day care and early education as a one fix or cure all for social mobility, maternal employment, OECD education rankings, poverty and child neglect to boot. They are wrong. They neglect the necessity of good mothering. They disregard babies’ needs and wants. They fail to understand that too early separation distresses the infant and threatens his emotional wellbeing.
Children, already vulnerable to inescapable peer group pressure will have another hurdle to overcome. Mr Clegg is not just considering cannabis legalisation but the decriminalisation of all drugs. He seems to think we have to learn from Columbia’s war on drugs. Quite what was not clear. It is not a country that has much in common with Britain but never mind. He was there recently. During this visit he announced that the ‘war on drugs’ had failed and that for him, was sufficient unto the day.
Despite the success of Columbia’s economic policy – a GDP growth that has been one of of highest in Latin America in recent years, despite their security strategy that has turned the drug running Farc into a shadow of its former self, Mr Clegg insisted the war had been lost. So in UK he inferred from this we must review our drugs policy with a view to legalisation or decriminalisation.
Well, the only war I know of is the one the pro drugs lobbies are waging against our far from punitive drug laws. Now Mr Clegg appears to have joined forces with them. Why, since Britons’ drug use has dropped since the late 1990’s by 30% and since last year fewer than 7% of adults tried or took them, is anyone’s guess. For behind their war on drugs rhetoric and all the celebrity drug use and addiction to drugs reported in the media, most Brits don’t like or have the habit.
Unfortunately Mr Clegg curious approach to being ‘anti drugs’ risks changing this. It risks exposing already vulnerable children and teenagers – amongst whom there already is a mental health crisis – to a more sources of supply, legitimate and illegitimate and, not least, from their parents newly sanctioned stocks.
Never have politicians held more sway over the future of our children and never have they shown less foresight.