Saturday, 27 July 2013

Come Walk with Me, Mr Gove...

Forgive me if I do the proud mum thing that makes others wince! We all love our kids and their achievements: indeed with 4 sons to support and encourage, it seems never a day goes by that my husband and I are not ferrying, encouraging, nurturing and offering sage words of advice to one of our brood. But our youngest boy is perhaps more "worthy" of celebration over his achievements as he achieves while battling autism.

His love is Drama. He's unashamedly good at it. In fact he could possibly excel in it in the future and have a possible career. He is 14 and has just sat his Drama GCSE exam (2 years early) and we await the outcome in August. However, he also attends Drama School - Thesps - based in our hometown of Prestatyn N Wales. They have supported this child with special needs and encouraged him to fulfil his potential. He recently took a London College of Music Drama and Acting Exam at Grade 4 which is near a GCSE level. Just had the result!He scored over 85% and received a Distinction pass.

Mr Gove - the exam was difficult. It involved a folder of work. He had to choose a theme so he chose - Violence and War. He had to collate war poetry.  I know you are fond of classic poetry Mr Gove. He had to explain to the examiner the contrast between Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est and Rupert Brooke's The Soldier. He had to explain the imagery and description and the differences in the way each piece was written and what Luca himself thought of each piece. He also had to include another 4 poems and talk about these thoroughly.  Charge of the Light Brigade was one, another classic, and poems covering the war in Vietnam and the Falklands War as more recent examples.He had 2 performance pieces, he had to learn by heart and act out with feeling. One was from Blood Brothers acting as a 7 year old boy,and the other Shakespeare's Macbeth Soliloquy "Is that a Dagger.." On top of that he was given 15 minutes to do a not previously seen performance on improvisation of the examiner's choice.

So you see "NOT A SOFT OPTION" Mr Gove. For a child with no special needs to even pass is an achievement. To pass with a Distinction when you have autism is a HUGE ACHIEVEMENT : one I hope even you would agree with. To then hear you so casually dismiss Drama and the Arts as soft options and somehow not worthy of note, is frankly appalling Mr Gove. You obviously have no idea of what goes into creating beautiful performance pieces, a love of English Literature and a nurturing of Literature and an understanding of our premier playwrights and poets.

Do not dismiss The Arts. The UK has a very proud history of actors, poets, writers, artists, TV Directors, Costume Designers, Photographers,  sculptors, textile workers, fashion designers, pottery makers. Innovative and Imaginative people who make our country stand out as a country where culture flourishes and is promoted.

Do not let your legacy as Education Secretary be one of destroying The Arts, their worth, their significance in our past and our future.

I invite you to spend time with teachers who teach these subjects and nurture these children. Spend time with my son and hear him talk enthusiastically about his performances, the things he has learnt and gained from and I promise you that you will reflect and think again about cutting Arts subjects and their teachers from the curriculum. Come Walk with Me, Mr Gove......