As the long school holiday approaches, time for Gove-watchers to fine-tune our antennae. The holidays themselves or the run-down to them, when teachers are manically trying to get this year wrapped up and the new one set up, has always seemed to governments of all hues like a good time to issue policy statements that teachers might not like. Last year, if you recall, Gove announced academies could employ unqualified teachers (obviously, this was not dumbing down : that only happens when exam performance goes up!).
This year, liberal-democrat fellow-traveller, David Laws, tells us how OFSTED will ‘hold schools to account’ for the underachievement of their disadvantaged pupils, and the gap between them and the rest of the school population. Of course, you thought the Pupil Premium came to schools to help narrow that particular inequality but, as I hope I’ve shown in a previous post, that is just a fig leaf for the lib-dems so they’ll let Gove get on with privatising the state education system. Everyday, cuts to local authority spending mean more and more must be found from school budgets. Oh, and, by the way, the Pupil Premium didn’t get a ‘real terms’ upgrade in the Spending Review.
Whilst we’re talking about underachievement and disadvantage, you might have thought that there could, conceivably, be factors outside the control of schools which might be playing a part. Housing? Social care? Disability? Welfare? Mental health? Poverty? Anybody out there trying to do anything to level those particular playing fields? No, thought not.
Also in the announcement, we learn that John Dunford, formerly of one of the heads’ unions, has become ‘Pupil Premium Czar’ or some such. As long as we’ve got a Czar, what could go wrong? Anyway, check out the Laws statement, brought to you courtesy of my ‘mole’ in the consultancy service of a London borough (no, not Edward Snowden!).