D’you remember when schools were about educating our children?

Change at the top is needed to provide better opportunities for people further down
Change at the top is needed to provide better opportunities for people further down

Just in case you thought Brexit was the important story this week, let me share the thoughts of the anonymous headmaster of a school somewhere in England in 2019.

“In 24 years of education, I have not seen the extent of poverty like this.

“Children are coming to school hungry, dirty and without the basics to set them up for life.

“The gap between those that have and those that do not is rising and is stark.”

It’s an open goal but here’s the follow up.

While the nation has been obesessing - and not without good cause - over Brexit, it emerged that Ben Van Beurden, boss of the oil company Royal Dutch Shell received a 126% pay rise last year, pocketing £17 million.

Mr Van Beurden saw his total pay climb from £7.6m to more than £12.8m as part of a long-term incentive plan.

He also scooped a £2.5m annual bonus as part of the award.

Let’s state clearly right now that this is not an attack on one individual who has done his job to the board’s satisfaction and who may well share his wealth through generous charitable donations.

The scary part is that his salary is said to be 143 times that of the average wage in Shell - not the lowest but the average in an industry that pays good wages at all levels.

The problem, as that headmaster pointed out is the growing chasm of opportunity between those who are flying, those getting by and those who have been left utterly behind.

Whatever the reasons, the failure of this society and its politicians to address these issues has cost us all and could cost us even more yet.

Is it any surprise that the biggest Brexit votes came from some of the most disadvantaged areas of the UK?

Successive governments, for example, have introduced and grown outsourcing which has reduced job numbers, pay and benefits at the lowest levels while executive pay has soared, even - in the case of Carillion - as it faced bankrputcy.

Now, with the NHS stretched to the limit is it any surprise that In London, police receive a call about a mental health concern once every four minutes and send an officer to respond every 12 minutes.

Unless we start paying - and taxing - people fairly then our society will continue to fracture and schools will continue to spend budgets on washing machines and shoes, really, for their pupils instead of ladders to get them out of the trench of disadvantage.