Raising primary children’s expectations

It’s the headline on MP Jill Kirby’s blog for Conservative Home that grabbed my attention, and enticed to read further.

You can read it for yourself, but in brief it’s a criticism of the content of the opening ceremony at the London Olympics. Can’t say I’ve read anything about it, and so I’ve no opinion as yet. However, it’s the following paragraph from her blog that I agree with her.

” Mr Gove [Secretary of State for Education] wants primary schools to raise their expectations, requiring children to master complex sentence construction, develop a love of literature and recite poetry. If he succeeds, perhaps the average pupil from a state primary will have the chance to commit to heart the rhythms and rich vocabulary of Cargoes or Night Mail, instead of, as at present, Big Babies Rap.”

Last year I had the pleasure and honour to read John Betjeman’s A Subaltern’s Love Song to a year of primary school children of Watchetts Junior School, at their poetry prizegiving.

Night Mail is a wonderfully evocative documentary film produced in 1936 by the General Post Office (GPO) Film Unit, about the travelling post office [mail train] from London to Glasgow. The clip below is of W. H. Auden reading the poem he wrote for the film. You can see the last 4 minutes of the film that includes the poem in the narrative HERE, or watch and marvel at the complete film HERE.

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