On children's legal right to have their voices heard

28th November 2008 at 00:00

The responses to the changes in the law to make pupil consultation legally enforceable need to be set in context ("Pupil voice to become law", TES, November 14).

Government interference in education in the past 20 years has been damaging, and state schools are approaching a point where irreversible damage is likely. The proposed changes are part of this pattern.

Legislators are out of touch, as is shown by the justification offered in the Lords by one speaker who said Ofsted surveys show 34 per cent of pupils think they are not consulted. This means most feel they are consulted, and both Lib Dems and Labour are pandering to a minority. No political party has ever received 66 per cent of the votes, yet politicians who fail this test think they can ignore pupils' majority view.

The debate shows the ignorance of a Westminster elite rightly held in low esteem by the public. Consultation will always be a red herring, and will never be more than advisory. Pupils are being misled into thinking they have power. When they find they do not have it, their cynicism will increase. Fractious legal actions are the most likely result, undermining schools' work.

Political interference in state schools - and it would be interesting to know if the legislation will apply to the independent sector - is disastrous. But most worrying is that politicians have taken power for more than 20 years to intervene damagingly, with no effective counterforce operating. Teacher unions protest, but this is no more than impotent rage. There must be a united front against the politicians.

Trevor Fisher, Stafford.

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