Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that childcare professionals wishing to apply for a CRB check must also ‘demonstrate sufficient knowledge’ on the works of popular author and Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson.
Writing via a Home Office dispatch, May declared that ‘any parent worth their salt’ has a full working knowledge of Donaldson’s books, and that it was ‘desirable that anyone wishing to work with children and young adults must also be familiar with the stories.’ ‘From now on,’ she continued, ‘prospective employees must not only have a clean criminal record, but also be able to minutely describe the physical attributes of a Gruffalo – wart and all.’
Controversially, the new knowledge test is to be applied retrospectively, with existing workers who have already had a CRB check being re-examined. ‘I have been working with troubled teenagers for over twenty years,’ explained inner-city youth worker David Morris, ‘but I have now been informed that I’ll have to abandon the kids in my charge to a life of crime unless I can repeat unaided the first stanza of ‘Room on the Broom’. The community centre’s going to pot while I bone up on some bloody witch and her overcrowded transport – I’m all for car sharing but what kind of example is that to set?’
Probation officer Sheila Bringford is also facing difficulties: ‘out of the blue the young offenders centre I’m attached to wanted me to write an appreciation on the art of Axel Scheffler; and is now demanding to know not only the circumstances in which I got six points on my driving license, but what animals feature in ‘A Squash and a Squeeze. How the hell should I know? I’m tearing my hair out, I’m down on my knees – the nearest I’ve ever got to reading a children’s book is the Da Vinci Code!’
However for some prospective employees, the new system has been a positive boon; ‘I’ve got quite a chequered past and it was looking unlikely that I’d get the post of private tutor to the royal great-grandchildren – that was at least until I was able to correctly summarize the plot of ‘The Smartest Giant in Town.’ Now I don’t have kids, so what a stroke of luck that I stumbled across this information while searching for something on the internet. ‘It’s amazing what comes up when you Google‘detonating Semtex’.’
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has blasted the scheme, accusing May of being ‘delusional': ‘silly old Theresa, doesn’t she know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo.’