HER Majesty's Government was pretty irresponsible last week, according to my hard-pressed friend Rosemary. She is always complaining about how much teaching time is taken up in pointless admin, but now the issue of parental involvement in primary education has been raised .
Charles Clarke, that well-known under-secretary of state and overpaid idiot (her view), has made the outrageous suggestion that middle-class parents should no longer coach their children for assessment exercises.
"Next he'll be proposing they don't do their homework for them!" huffed Rosie. "And you know what that means!" I didn't but she was prepared to tell the entire wine bar, if necessary. "The whole structure of marking in this country is based on the fact that middle-class parents do the homework.
"That's why we all want middle-class kids in our schools - not because they're bright or well-behaved, but because the work their parents do at home keeps us high in the league tables."
According to Rosie, class of parent is essential information for a busy teacher with too many scripts to mark and too little time. She says: "You can usually decide what kind of grade to give by the Christian name. Any girl whose mum and dad called her Kelly, Lyndsey, Kylie or Hayley will belong to the fluffy pencil-case brigade, carry a six-inch ruler and automatically get a D. The parents won't even know she's got homework."
Darrens and Waynes are worse, it seems. "They're always E because even if they get help at home it'll be no good."
Kates and Emmas are invariably As and the parents of anyone called Ben, Sam or Edward are usually B. I must admit I had no idea when I ran a spellcheck over Ginny's laboriously-typed school project last week that I was helping our local primary maintain its reputation for excellence but Rosie is seriously worried. "If parents stop doing homework the only way we'll be able to assess it in future is to read every script as it comes in. Doesn't the Government realise we hardly have time to mark the damn things, let alone actually read them?" Mr Clarke must recognise that British parents have an important role to play. The consistently high standard of our homework frees up the teaching profession to get on with all that admin.