Anthony Horowitz, Anne Fine, Quentin Blake, Philip Pullman and Michael Morpurgo will stop visiting schools in protest over the government’s desire to put them on a database. This is part of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS), managed by one of those pesky quangos, the Independent Safeguarding Authority. One for the dustbin, I suggest, Mr Cameron.
Respected author Philip Pullman has described the policy as “corrosive and poisonous to every kind of healthy social interaction." He went on to state: “I've been going into schools as an author for 20 years, and on no occasion have I ever been alone with a child. The idea that I have become more of a threat and I need to be vetted is both ludicrous and insulting. Children have never been in any danger from visiting authors or illustrators, and the idea that they should be is preposterous."
Former Children's Laureate Anne Fine has set out that: "When it [the VBS] becomes essential, I shall continue to work only in foreign schools, where sanity prevails…The whole idea of vetting an adult who visits many schools, but each only for a day, and then always in the presence of other adults, is deeply offensive."
Anthony Horowitz hits the nail on the head in questioning the thinking behind this move: “What I really hate about this database is the way it poisons the very special relationship that exists between children and the authors they admire. What sort of sick mind could whisper that there might be something suspect in that relationship, that children should be wary of all adults – unless they're government-approved?"
This move is indicative of a government ideologically compelled to control. It is time that schools were trusted with the care of children, backed up by parents through PTAs and other internally determined processes. Unless power is taken back from the state, we will increasingly see the destruction of the institutions and informal ties that bind people together. Moves such as these undermine further the fabric of society, and the best thing the authors can do in response is ignore the government and carry on attending schools regardless.