The loathsome Toby Young has co-authored a book. It is called “What Every Parent Needs To Know”, and subtitled “How To Help Your Child Get The Most Out Of Primary School”. Tobes has proclaimed this to be a work of the greatest significance, and is promoting it with his customary shamelessness. Meanwhile, in the real world, his latest effort has been given the thumbs-down.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
Tobes is a Proper Journalist (allegedly), and also a parent and co-founder of the West London Free School. This undoubtedly enabled him to persuade publishers to accept his new meisterwerk. He has attempted, in a Spectator column, for which he did not provide a link, to compare the book to Michael Rosen’s Good Ideas. He may think Rosen will be flattered; I suspect he will be horrified.
The idea is to provide some insights for parents into the new National Curriculum, among all the other advice. But, as Zoe Williams has discovered in her review for the Guardian, “The central point is that the national curriculum has changed ... Unfortunately, for the authors and, of course, us, nobody really knows what the new one will look like”. Looks like it was hardly worth Tobes’ while, then.
She explains “A primary school teacher friend of mine described it all a bit more bluntly – with the last lot, they had a huge number of targets and rules and stupid testing, but at least those rules were written down and anyone could consult them. Now, they are just as rulebound, without the rules; it creates, in the kindest possible reading, the tyranny of guesswork”. For Tobes, this is A Very Good Thing.
Others less kindly disposed towards the supposedly wonderful world of Michael “Oiky” Gove might suggest that this is a total waste of resources. And Nicholas Tucker at the Indy is not wholly convinced by Tobes’ tome, warning prospective readers that “there are almost too many good ideas here, plus some truly wacky ones hardly worth the time and effort”.
Like, er, what? “‘Electrifying your daughter's doll's house’ to provide a greater understanding of science? Not allowing ‘your child to see you using the percentage button on your calculator’ as an incentive for working out percentages for themselves?” Bloody hell, does Tobes need to use a calculator? Tucker also warns against “turning home into an active extension of school”.
Ms Williams dismissively notes “A huge amount of this is no more or less than you get in photocopied handouts from the primary schools themselves: I'm sure it's possible that my kids' school is the only one that imparts this stuff – cooking with children is a good way to introduce them to numbers and food, going to galleries a good way to introduce them to art – but I think it really unlikely”.
File this one under Another Desperate Status Generating Wheeze, then.