Can the 'school revolution' be stopped?
Posted on behalf of Trevor Fisher who had difficulty posting this article
The factual analysis produced by Centre Forum is not merely flawed, as Janet Downs said, but largely irrelevant. Fact and fiction are now intertwined in the politics of education. The dominant reality is that politicians are in control and the machinations cannot be subject to debate. The White Paper contains no rational justification for academisation, as the political drivers are above scrutiny. Indeed, Tory Politicians no longer pretend that academisation produces better results, while even the Daily Telegraph has noted that three quarters of academy chains contain 'coasting schools' on the definition of the 2015 Act.
Most blatantly of all Nick Gibb told the Research Ed conference on September 5th that “This government does not believe that all academies and free schools are necessarily better than maintained schools”, but argued that freedom is being granted to innovate. Which is also not the case, as control by politicians on what is taught and how it is taught is controlled by politicians at Westminster – and OFSTED is now struggling to control 'gaming' of Peformance 8 according to the TES of 8th April. And who creates this jungle of regulation and evasion of regulation? It's like Stalin's Russia.
There is no effective debate in such a climate, and as SOSS argued in its autumn briefing (available from www.soss.org.uk) the government now brags it is running a 'School Revolution'. Which is true and means they cannot do a U turn. That sets a bigger challenge than talking truth to power. How can the politics of the Westminster Bubble be so challenged that continuing with the Revolution is impossible?