“I think you have to be very careful – partly because of my own experience as a child. When I was in primary school I was sometimes in very low classes. If there had been national standards I would have been declared a bit of a loser.”

Margaret, whose international career as a children’s writer has reaped many awards and honours, says, “Education is a hugely complicated process because every child is an individual and every child ideally needs an individual response, and national standards seem to be a declaration that
tends to exclude that.”

She is concerned by cuts to funding for arts, science and music in primary education, and says, “I think variety is part of the essence of education. Literacy and maths are obviously fundamental and important and it’s nice to think pupils come away from school and can read competently and do mathematics competently.

“But I do think education should be generous and embrace a variety of subjects because that way acknowledges a variety of areas. A straight ordering in terms of competence has got some dangers.

“I don’t have any indication that national standards would pay attention to the huge variety and different stages that individual children go through.

“You could get a child who’s very good at music and they need to have that acknowledged and it should be acknowledged in education.”