At the moment, access to the best that has been thought and said is restricted to a fortunate few. Because of the dumbing-down of both our exams and school curricula under Labour, children can go through school never having read a novel written before the 20th century, never having read or seen an entire Shakespeare play, never having learned a poem by heart, never having had the chance to appreciate, or play, classical music, never having the chance to learn about the achievements of the greatest scientists and engineers, never having had the chance to play in the competitive sports in which England has long excelled, never being encouraged to engage with anything which is not immediately “relevant” to their lives.
But if all children are told about is what they already know, how will they ever - like Rita - learn better songs to sing?
There is no doubt that most parents have aspirations for their children which are far higher than many of the professionals who condescend to them. The Millennium Cohort Study of 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000-01 recently interviewed mothers about their ambitions for their seven-year-old children. An astonishing 97 per cent of mothers wanted their child to go to university. Whether or not a student decides that university is right for them, the evidence is clear that a proper academic education to the age of 16 is the best way of maximising any child’s chances of success in the future.