"We won a majority and we expect to be listened to". That was the introduction from Lord Lucas, representing the Conservative government tonight at the launch of "Inspiring Growth
", the CBI/Pearson 2015 education and skills survey.
That may be how our politicians think, but it felt odd to hear one say it out loud. I asked if perhaps they should also be prepared to listen. Lord Lucas was clear that was not necessary: "Will the government listen? No. We are too full of ourselves at the moment and we have our own ideas",
was his response.
Most of the questions from the businesspeople in the audience were seeking a different approach in education. One of the speakers, Rod Bristow, argued, "we need a greater focus on communication, collaboration and resilience". Others talked about the need for schools to build character and teamwork and to avoid restrictive approaches like the ebacc.
The CBI recently supported the launch of the NUT's report
on how schools have become exam factories. And John Cridland, Director-General of the CBI, has argue
d for the scrapping of GCSEs and for A levels to provide a balance of academic and vocational subjects. It is intriguing that the CBI seems to be closer to the NUT than to the DfE, and government education ministers, when it comes to what is taught in our schools.
But Lord Lucas was clear that the government had its own agenda and had no interest in listening to the CBI, to schools, to colleges or to businesspeople. Others tell me this is the attitude that is now common from the new Conservative government but I have to say I was staggered by the sheer arrogance of a government elected with the 2nd smallest majority of the last 40 years and just 37% of the vote.
Lord Lucas is not, of course, himself elected. The 12th Baron Lucas, his presence in the House of Lords results from the role of a distant ancestor in the Royalist army in the 17th century.