Coming back to my home base on Friday – after a week in the Home Office – my first ‘visit’ of the new term was to my old school – Highgate Primary. It couldn’t really have been more appropriate if we had tried – because Highgate Primary has within its boundaries – the Blanche Nevile School.
Blanche Nevile is a school for deaf children which provides a child-centred, sign-bilingual, bicultural education for deaf children from a wide range of London Boroughs. The deaf and hard of hearing children have some classes on their own and some integrated – and it is the most wondrous thing to see this in action.
A group of children had prepared questions to ask me about politics, the election, coalition and so on – to be followed by a show in Assembly and a cake sale. I walked into a room full of children literally bursting with energy and enthusiasm for politics – not always that common in ten year olds – but something new is in the air. I don’t know if it was the leader debates or what (clearly they have fantastic teachers who had worked with them to prepare questions and enthuse them) but I have never seen a class like it.
Almost every hand went up every time a new question was needed. Why did I choose the LibDems? Why did I choose the Tories not Labour? What would I change if I was Prime Minister? Did I always want to be an MP? And much much more.
Straight on to a production of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ in Assembly. It was absolutely gorgeous – as you can imagine. I loved particularly (probably cos it’s my era) their rendition of ‘Wild Thing!’. And yes – both the questions class and the show and the assembly were mixed hearing and non-hearing children.
And that is really the key point – all those children will grow up without questionning the equality of the hearing and the non-hearing. Just as it should be. As Minister for Equalities – this was equalities in action!