‘GERM’ is the acronym for ‘global education reform movement’. Education is now a global business and large multi-national companies seek to make money from the education of children worldwide, companies like Pearson (who own our Edexcel exam board) and Murdoch. I had the opportunity to hear from Martin Johnson of the ATL teachers’ union when I attended the Anti Academies Alliance AGM last Saturday. He has been researching for a book he is writing with the Guardian’s Warwick Mansell, called ‘Education Not For Sale’, to be published in the Spring.
According to Johnson, this ‘business’, which is part of the neoliberal agenda, is in trouble. This is partly because of cutbacks in public spending in the US and Europe (their purpose after all is to pocket tax-payers’ money), and also because of emerging malpractice in the states.
The parallels to what has been happening under Gove are not hard to see. The conditions under which edubusiness will flourish have been developing here for decades: local management of schools, increase in ‘accountability’ measures and so forth. The undermining of teachers’ national negotiating rights and blatant attempts to attack their unions in recent years, are part of the package.
We are already seeing the opportunities being opened up under Gove’s privatisation project (academies and free schools) for pseudo charities to syphon off public funds, as detailed in recent Guardian and other stories.
There cannot really be any doubt now that what the Tories are intent on doing is to effectively ‘sell off’ our schools to private business.