We can get so fixated with the current political situation that we forget what it’s really all about. On Friday I watched George Freeman MP cut a ribbon and officially open Chapel Green School near Attleborough. The sun shone, the children sang and made music and everyone enjoyed the plentiful supply of chocolate cake.
The school supports some of the most vulnerable young people in our society. None of them asked to be born with often profound learning disabilities. All deserve every opportunity to learn, develop and play their part, however small, in making our world a more tolerant, inclusive and equal place.
I was invited because a few years ago I had dared to challenge some long held assumptions about capital funding. I helped break the funding deadlock that meant these children were being taught in a 1960s school; a building that didn’t come close to meeting their needs. They urgently needed a new campus.
Our local MP George Freeman had been amazing, bringing the then Secretary of State for Education along to see the situation for himself. I suspect he did some subtle lobbying behind the scenes too. It was fitting that he came along to cut the ribbon and formally open the new £14m campus.
Chatting with George afterwards about the importance of leading change locally, I was reminded of something John F Kennedy once said: ‘Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.’
Right now there is a very real opportunity to lead change at a local level. Once you have demonstrated public support, and can show how what you’re proposing will be sustainable, then political and national support will usually follow. But it won’t happen if all you do is look back to the past.