Chinese curse…Part 1 of a look into 2013

dervishIt was probably not the  Chinese who cursed: “May you live in interesting times!” but if there’s any truth in it, we must be cursed indeed. It’s that time of year when pundits, commentators and the like (and I suppose I’m one) either review the year that’s just gone or — much riskier — preview the one we’re about to get.

In education, academies will be high on the agenda as Gove tries to get as many as possible before he leaves office. He must be calculating that he has another two years, given that Cameron is not going to re-shuffle him before the election in 2015. Gove moved swiftly on attaining office and with over half the secondary schools across the country having converted one wonders if the ‘tipping point’ has already been reached. This year will see the focus switch to primaries with those closely linked to secondary academies being tempted; meanwhile Gove works to force both primaries and secondaries identified as ‘failing’ into the academies camp. The calculation early on for schools (or rather heads and governors) was how much money they could make by conversion. As time goes on, one element of the calculation must be: what chance of a reversal if (as seems likely) the government changes in 2015? Unlike Andy Burnham at ‘shadow’ Health, Stephen Twigg, shadow Education Secretary, has been less than forthcoming about this. It is a dilemma for Labour, as the academies programme seems to be a continuation of their own. No doubt they will want to see how popular academies are with parents before risking the upheaval of reversal.

‘Free’ schools are a bit different although, by definition, they are part of this ‘privatised’ landscape. With no existing school and its reputation to ‘inherit’, these schools will be successful in establishing themselves in some cases but nose-dive in others. Once established they will, as I’ve said, be part of the ‘new order’ with little input from parents or teachers and greater influence from unelected representatives of ‘trusts’.

Don’t miss Part 2 coming up almost immediately, looking at the EBACC Cert. and Year 6 Grammar Tests!

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One comment on “Chinese curse…Part 1 of a look into 2013

  1. The only thing I might take issue with here is the supposed “dilemma” that some think Labour might now be in (based on a premise that it “started academies”).

    There was a concern from the outset that Blair’s ‘city academies’ represented nothing more than the re-introduction of the Tories’ CTCs. While it now suits Blair to tell people that he supports academies policy full stop, neither he nor his acolytes were telling Labour Party members that when they brought in the city academies. However, I know plenty of Labour Party members who genuinely believed ‘Tony’ when he claimed his policy was “a necessary quick fix” for city schools that would go no further. They weren’t all convinced but they grudgingly accepted it because those governments were prepared to spend more in schools generally.

    Anyone interested in Labour politics will be aware of the on-going debate as to what mistakes the Blair and Brown governments made and how they should “atone” for them. The academies policy was clearly just such a mistake and Twigg could easily say so – he might as well before the number of financial scandals snowballs so that he avoids having to eat humble pie at that point instead! Blair hoodwinked a lot of Party members into accepting something that has been transformed into a much greater monster by others. To those of us who could look ahead back then to a time when the Tories would get back in, the suggestion that “the genie could easily be put back in the bottle” sounds naive. That doesn’t mean others who “trusted Tony” back then agree in any way with what Gove has been up to since 2010.

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