Jump to content
The Education Forum

Recommended Posts

If we treat schools like market stalls, we will end up with vegetables

This is a quote from a newspaper article on the White Paper:

"Parents are deeply concerned about education, but few have the time, motivation or expertise to change, open or run schools. Schools can't even recruit enough parents to serve as governors."

The link to the article is here

http://education.guardian.co.uk/policy/sto...1686218,00.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cynically one might suggest that the aim is to show how wonderful public schools are and thus preserve the privileges of that class of person in Oxbridge and all the plum jobs that follow these illustrious academic careers. It must have been pretty irksome for them to be eating cucumber sandwiches in Laura Ashley prints and Saville Row suits [i presume they come in sandwich size :lol: ] and be subjected to people with 'accents' on graduation day. SO much easier to know that the upper classes produce the upper children and be able to prove this through academic achievement. If it can't be done fairly, cheat. Forget 'taking part' it's results that matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a concern that an active group of local parents could take over the school under the terms of the white paper and turn it into "The Ron Hubbard Academy of Scientology." :)

(at least I assume I'm joking)

Cynically one might suggest that the aim is to show how wonderful public schools are and thus preserve the privileges of that class of person in Oxbridge and all the plum jobs that follow these illustrious academic careers. It must have been pretty irksome for them to be eating cucumber sandwiches in Laura Ashley prints and Saville Row suits [i presume they come in sandwich size :lol: ] and be subjected to people with 'accents' on graduation day. SO much easier to know that the upper classes produce the upper children and be able to prove this through academic achievement. If it can't be done fairly, cheat. Forget 'taking part' it's results that matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is a concern that an active group of local parents could take over the school under the terms of the white paper and turn it into "The Ron Hubbard Academy of Scientology." :lol:

(at least I assume I'm joking)

To be honest, given what might happen, that particular academy might be preferable! The Daily Mail Reader Bomb Them Now Academy of Britishness is the one that gets me.... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Stephen Turner

Gentlemen, whilst we have a ruling class, it will continually find/defend ways to reproduce itself. There is, I am afraid, only one answer B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservi...1720231,00.html

Kelly stands firm on schools bill

Oliver King

Tuesday February 28, 2006

The government gave no further concessions on its controversial schools reforms as it published its long-awaited education bill this afternoon.

After giving ground earlier this month on schools admissions and the role of local authorities, the education secretary, Ruth Kelly, today rejected demands to further water down the legislation.

Demands by rebel Labour MPs that local authorities should have the power to set up new schools without reference to the education secretary were rejected by the government.

But the words "trust schools" - which ministers have adopted as the brand for their plans - do not appear anywhere in the legislation. Trust schools would instead be legally known as "foundation schools with a foundation".

As MPs were left to digest the 200-page bill without a Commons statement by Ms Kelly it was unclear tonight how many of the potential 100 Labour rebels had been brought back onside by the government.

Rebel MPs opposed to the bill under centre-left Labour thinktank Compass are meeting at Westminster to discuss how to take forward opposition to the bill.

Organiser Neal Lawson said: "There are still a pretty substantial figure - 80, 90 even a 100 MPs - opposed to this bill. There have haven't been any fundamental changes.

"Tonight's meeting will discuss tactics on where and how we go from here."

Before publishing the bill in Westminster, Ms Kelly visited a school in west London. She said: "I'm confident that this is a bill that my colleagues should be able to unite around.

"It is a very good bill. It gives schools the freedom they need to raise standards."

The education secretary will tonight address the northern group of Labour MPs as ministers undertake a fresh round of lobbying.

The proposals cover reforms to the way schools are run, measures to improve classroom discipline and new rules to make school meals healthier.

The department for education said every school would have the chance to become a trust school, free from local authority control and able to manage its assets.

Trust schools will be backed by businesses, faith groups, universities or other successful schools under the proposals, which were first outlined in a white paper last year. The original white paper proposals set out moves to strip local authorities of their power to create new community schools. Instead, local authorities were to have a new "strategic" role. The bill published today makes it clear that a local education authority in England, may with the consent of the secretary of state set up a new community school.

Ms Kelly has insisted she would only use this power of veto rarely, and "will not normally intervene" where the council in question has a good track record and parents in the area want the new community school.

Vera Baird, Labour MP for Redcar told Guardian Unlimited: "I wasn't one of the original 100-strong rebels but I was somewhat unhappy at the bill and the concessions have gone some way towards solving that. I'm inclined to think the bulk of the problems are out of the way but I'm still worried about the veto."

Clive Efford one of the 100 Labour rebels MPs who signed the alternative white paper promoted by the Compass thinktank, said he wanted time to consider it.

"I picked up this bill five minutes ago with the intention of not voting for it. I will now go away and read it, but it is very difficult to confirm that the government have moved as far as it's said it has. I'm still concerned about getting the resources into low performing schools but we seem to have moved a long way away from the free for all disaster it would have been," he said.

With the Conservatives indicating they will support the bill with reservations it was left to the Liberal Democrats to officially oppose the legislation.

The Lib Dem education spokesman, Edward Davey, said: "Despite the hype, these are limited reforms, containing hidden dangers that ought to alarm parents and schools across England.

"We will now study the fine print, but if ministers want the votes of Liberal Democrats they would be strongly advised before second reading to refocus on reforms proven to raise standards.

"Schools don't need to become trusts to get the benefits ministers promise, but if your local school adopts Labour's trust model you could find your children don't get a place. Labour wants schools to choose pupils, not parents to choose schools. That's a threat to parental choice."

The 25-strong Socialist Campaign group of MPs immediately signaled they were still unhappy with the bill.

Chairman John McConnell said: "The bill remains unacceptable to any Labour MP seeking to ensure fair access to a decent education for all their constituents, rich or poor.

"Having secured a series of concessions so far, our strategy will be to await further government shifts - as even with those concessions the government cannot be sure of its majority."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps the significance of the Education Bill is the determination of "Ramsay McBlair" to get his measures through with the aid of his allies in the Conservative Party :ice

I think the idea of changing the name of the trust schools is a particularly clever one. Is it assumed that the tame "Labour Rebels" will regard this name change as a sufficient concession to their concerns to vote for the Bill? They were so spineless over ID cards that the answer is probably yes.

And as for the teachers and pupils who will have to pick up the pieces; privatisation will be called "partnership", Creationism will be relabelled "Intelligent Design", and a worsening of school teachers' pay and conditions will be called "much needed reform."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And as for the teachers and pupils who will have to pick up the pieces; privatisation will be called "partnership", Creationism will be relabelled "Intelligent Design", and a worsening of school teachers' pay and conditions will be called "much needed reform."

Today this is called "Thinking outside the box". In "1984" it was called doublethink.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What can he say when the Conservative party has been seized by Blairite airheads and Labour battles to re-enact a Tory education bill? David Cameron returned from paternity leave this week like a Beatle from an ashram. He brought a mission statement spun as casting caution to the winds. He daringly espouses truth, beauty, compassion, motherhood and fatherhood. When it comes to rough stuff, Cameron clearly means to take no hostages.

Tony Blair's case is more puzzling. The education bill published by Ruth Kelly yesterday is a straight copy of Kenneth Baker's 1988 Education Act as amended by John Patten in 1993. Both were an attack on local education authorities and tried to induce schools to "opt out" and come under the wing of Whitehall. Margaret Thatcher told her party conference in 1987 that she intended to "give parents and governors the right to take their children's schools out of the hands of the local authority".

The Tory right in 1988 favoured a voucher scheme in which "money follows the parent" wherever the market should lead. Thatcher decided not to go that far in dismantling the local education structure. She preferred voluntarism, assuming that every school would jump at the chance to escape. What therefore evolved after 1988 was a three-tier secondary system: private schools; the 24,000 local authority schools; and an intermediate group of roughly a thousand centrally-funded schools.

The last group was to evolve under various ministerial initiatives over the years. Governors were first told they would be free to determine admissions, code for selection, but after a furious row Baker conceded they should adhere to local "comprehensive" arrangements. The schools were dubbed opted-out, grant-maintained, trusts, foundations, city technology colleges and city academies. The academies are costing five times their local authority equivalents (plus gongs for their founders).

By the time Thatcher left office, just 340 schools had opted out, many of them undersubscribed city schools facing closure. In 1993 Patten returned to the attack. Like his boss, John Major, a trenchant enemy of local government, he promised to get "most of the 3,900 maintained secondary schools and a significant proportion of 19,000 maintained primary schools to opt out by 1996". This would "mark the end of the long-standing local education authority monopoly". But the Treasury insisted on coherent planning of local school capacity under a new Funding Agency for Schools. Council schools remained part of the mix, but with the secretary of state empowered to overrule council decisions.

The changes that Blair and his ministers, Kelly and Lord Adonis, have had to concede are the same as those conceded by Baker and Patten in 1988 and 1993. They have had to concede voluntarism. They have had to concede a comprehensive admissions code. They have had to allow Treasury control over school building. They have had to allow councils to continue to build. They have kept secretary-of-state discretion over that building. Nothing is new. This is the old Tory bill.

Voluntarism failed. Despite often frantic efforts by ministers, barely 1,000 schools had opted out by the time the Tories left office. Half were in just eight badly administered areas. There was no antipathy to local councils running schools, at least outside the boroughs inhabited by London's commentariat. While Blair, Adonis and Kelly may be keen to replace council schools with faith ones, most parents have been sceptical of sectarian education and satisfied with local education authorities. Mori recently found the public's "trust" of local councillors at 35% compared with just 20% for government ministers.

That Blair should expend so much political capital on the same blind alley explored by Thatcher and Major is bizarre. Most secondary-school transfer in Britain works reasonably well. Britain's education challenge lies in teaching and resources, not in governance. What is gained by converting a mostly comprehensive system into a chaotically selective one is a mystery. In my area, access to the most desirable primary and secondary school is currently by a certificate of church attendance signed by a parson. Is this what Labour means by equal opportunity?

Kelly said on the radio yesterday that her bill was vital "to give teachers the power to raise standards". How do they lack that power at present? If local control is the root of evil, as Blair implies, why did he abolish grantmaintained status in 1997?

The worst feature of the bill is the implied discrimination. Schools are community institutions. The government's 1,000 centrally financed schools already enjoy a virtuous circle of leaguetable success, de facto selective entry and extra money. The reason is that, as with academies and the Tories' grantmaintained schools, ministers have a vested interest in boasting their success.

The Kelly model has good schools "expanding" or "taking over" poor ones. This was said in the 90s and meant nothing. Schools have no interest in diluting their ethos or risking their league-table position. Nor will the Treasury permit spare capacity in unpopular schools. The result will owe more to Charles Darwin than Adam Smith. Bog-standard comprehensives, renamed "community schools", will stay crammed with rejects. The weakest will go to the wall, which, in Britain's inner cities, is the last place social policy should want to send them. It is back to British secondary education prior to the 1944 Butler Act.

The Kelly bill offers a worse separatism than the geographical selection of "postcode" comprehensives, where institutions are community-based and close to home and parents. It is worse even than a "loaded" voucher system. Both these embrace a clear redistribution of resources from rich neighbourhoods to poor ones. Kelly, like Patten, will find herself bribing successful schools to opt out of community control and adjudicating constantly over their admissions regimes. She will be giving to "them that hath" and thus taking from them that have not. Labour MPs will be voting for this. Amazing.

There is one light on the horizon. In conceding voluntarism, the bill faces the same fate as its 1993 predecessor. Then, schools, parents and teachers simply turned their backs on central government and said, no thanks. They preferred the devils they knew. They can do so again.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1720596,00.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×