He ain’t going nowhere (apologies to Bob Dylan)

Much as I dislike the tendency in modern politics to ‘personalise’ I have to face up to the fact that opposing current changes in education means opposing the works and ideas of one man. My fellow opponents have got excited in recent weeks by the pressure being put on Michael Gove. He has backed down over EBACC, he has faced criticism from fellow MPs and in the media over his failure to control his special advisers, there have been revelations of a ‘bullying culture’ within the DfE and there have been strongly critical pieces in influential newspapers. Might he be on the way out, some have wondered? Continue reading

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Does university add up?

It is sad, but no surprise, that this year has seen a significant drop in the number of young people applying to university. Many will have had to think twice about saddling themselves with massive amounts of debt for decades to come. As the parent of a young person considering this momentous step I was naturally concerned but have almost been persuaded by the ‘money saving expert’,  Martin Lewis,  and I recommend anyone in a similar position to read his views at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/

Continue reading

The billion pound drop

‘An extra £1 billion was spent by the Government in the last two years on turning schools into academies, the spending watchdog has said.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Education (DfE) was “unprepared” for the financial impact of rapidly expanding the programme.

In a new report, the NAO said the department had initially failed to anticipate the scale of interest from schools who would want to take on academy status.

Michael Gove at the Conservative Party conferenceSoon after the 2010 general election, Education Secretary Michael Gove [left] announced he was opening up the programme to allow all schools in England to apply for academy status.

[A] new NAO report concluded that while this expansion was a “significant achievement”, the DfE was not ready for it.

It found that between April 2010 and March 2012, the DfE had to find an estimated £1 billion of additional costs.

To stay within its overall spending limits, and still allow the expansion to continue at the same pace, the DfE found this money from its main schools settlement and other budgets.

“The department was unprepared for the financial implications of rapid expansion,” the report said.’

It adds that the DfE was unable to recover around £350 million of the £1 billion from local councils to offset against academy funding.

The above is a slightly edited version of something that appeared in the Huffington Post.

It also emerged that the budget set aside for the introduction of academies in this two-year period was 7 billion pounds. How many of us realised that, in a time of ‘austerity’ when savings had to be made hither and thither, such a massive sum was put aside for this ideological development? And to put it into perspective, Labour’s ‘Building Schools for the Future’ scheme, which Gove cancelled on taking office, was running at between 3 and 4 billion a year. Click on Mr Gove (go on, you know you want to!) to read the full article.

Picture of Michael Gove by PA.

So who do you think YOU are?

So why should you care what I think? And why should you care what I think about education?

Colin Tucker, author

Well, I was a teacher in a secondary school in Derbyshire for a very long time and for a lot of that time I was a member of the school’s leadership team. So I saw close-up how the school wrestled with changes of policy, emphasis and funding over that time and was forced to help make some of those decisions. So I won’t just criticise here – I understand how difficult it can sometimes be to be a senior teacher and have to make difficult decisions.

And I’m a parent. The last headteacher I worked for insisted that whatever we did we had to subject it to ‘the dad test’ (we sometimes suggested it ought to be ‘the mum test’ as well!) But in principle he was right. Educationalists at all levels would make better decisions if they thought about what a good parent would want for their child.