I’ve been astonished over the past year at how well young people have accepted their lives being halted.
They’ve not just had their freedoms and interactions taken away but, for students, the tools which will shape their future.
They’ve been told they can’t travel or party, had exams they prepared for pulled, social lives stolen and been made to realise that they will be the ones paying off the horrendous debt we are now racking up.
And not only have they received little credit for their stoic behaviour, they’ve suffered mass slander whenever groups of them have gathered to have a drink in a public place and left behind litter.
If that’s the worst our young people have done then they deserve medals.
Instead, as the Government’s pledge of one-tenth of the £15billion needed to plug the gap in state school teaching typifies, all they’ve received is contempt.
They’ll be used to it by now. They’ve seen their chances to study or work abroad decimated by Brexit and at general elections they’ve watched pensioners being bribed with triple-locked pensions while tuition fees soar.
Last year, a report by the YMCA showed that spending on youth services in England and Wales had been slashed by almost £1bn, or 70%, since the Tories came to power in 2010, with 750 youth centres and 4,500 youth workers lost.
And had it not been for Marcus Rashford shaming Boris Johnson into two U-turns, kids who receive free school meals would have gone hungry during the holidays.
As with the risible sum set aside to try to keep the poorest students up to speed with the wealthiest ones, it’s clear the people in power don’t care.
These were words spoken by Tory MPs during the Commons debate on extending free school meals: Ben Bradley dismissed it as an extended “freebies” scheme, Paul Scully saw no value in it because kids “have been going hungry for years” and Brendan Clarke-Smith declared “I do not believe in nationalising children”.
We now hear that the Government’s own Education Recovery Commissioner’s demand for a £15bn post-Covid catch-up plan for state schools was slashed by 90% to £1.4bn.
Which translates to £50 per pupil per year compared to the £1,600 per pupil being spent in America and £2,500 per pupil in Holland.
Now that’s contempt.
The key players blocking the demand are Eton-educated Boris Johnson and Winchester-schooled Rishi Sunak, who cannot begin to comprehend the problems ordinary pupils face.
They also know the expensive schools that their own kids attend, or will attend, don’t need to worry about catching up, as they never lost ground in the first place.
When will working-class Tories realise that the party they vote for sees their children as a different species to their own. That there exists an educational apartheid in Britain that props up the centuries-old class system.
That there will be no proper social mobility, no boost to life outcomes in the poorest parts of the country, so long as the gap between public and state schools, which Tories wholeheartedly approve of, exists.
That you are delusional for believing that “levelling-up” is anything other than a cynical slogan designed to steal your vote.
Because to them your kids are just another brick in the Blue Wall.