and the other children's writers, in their stand against the proposal to vet them before they are allowed to undertake schools visits. Read about it here although it was all over our media yesterday - part of a growing tendancy to see all adults as potential paedophiles. Visiting writers usually work with large groups of children. Since most of them are not qualified teachers, they should not be left alone the kids - the teachers are meant to stay in the classroom, not slide out to do a bit of marking. I do very few schools visits - and when I do, because of what I write, I tend to be working with sixth years, so it's no big deal if the teacher occasionally leaves me alone to get on with it. But on the other hand, it's not good practice either - the best classes have been well prepared by an interested teacher, who knows the kids well, and can prompt questions or participation if things go a little slowly. That way the visit is beneficial for all concerned.
But why writers - who, as Pullman is quick to point out, mostly earn much less than he does - should be expected to pay yet another stealth tax, inspired by little more than irrational panic is beyond me. On a scale of risk, the possibility of being abused by a visiting writer, who usually spends his or her short session in the school working with large groups of children in very public places, must be on a par with the possibility of being struck by a meteor while waiting for a bus.
At this rate, they'll be telling us that our kids should never be allowed outside the door - you never know who might be watching.