that the current Chief Schools Adjudicator is leaving his post early is worrying. In my experience of reading his reports, adjudications and meeting him (and we haven’t always see eye to eye) Ian Craig has been fair, honourable and taken his responsibilities to ‘police’ the Code of Practice very seriously.
So what went wrong? It has been suggested that he didn’t agree with the direction of government policy. Somehow I find this hard to believe as I always found him to be very careful, either as the adjudicator, or previously as Assistant Director in Kent, a fully selective authority, to keep out of the politics of his role.
Did his comments about faith schools cause ructions? He certainly seemed to get a grilling on his suggestion that some faith school admissions criteria might benefit white middle class parents when he gave evidence
to the Education Select Committee. However the job of the Chief Adjudicator is to look at the evidence, the complaints he or she gets, and then paint a picture in the Annual Report. Dr Craig’s earlier report
flagging up fraudulent practices and the extent to which parents lie and cheat to get their children in to certain schools definitely helped to shine a spotlight into some murky areas of school choice at local level.
My theory is simply that, in spite of all that pre election rhetoric about openness and inclusion, this government, like many before it, just likes to appoint its friends and fellow travellers to key posts.
Again and again we see a small inner group of cronies being shuffled into these numerous ‘reviews’. Look at this one The Teachers Standards Review Group
, launched today. Of the fifteen members, nine are actively involved in schools; five of them are from academies, and three from the same academy group, Ark, even though it only runs a handful of schools.
John McIintosh, former head of the London Oratory school pops up again (he is also reviewing the national curriculum). We can only assume that the ubiquitous Michael Wilshaw, head of Mossbourne Academy, was busy on the days the group meets.
Should we be worried about that? It is depressing to think that the views of the 20,000 plus schools out there that are not academies are given such a low profile. However when it comes to admissions, having an independent, and objective figure at the helm matters a lot. The publication of a new draft Code of Practice is imminent. It is going to be ‘slimmed down’ and, judging by the news
that parents who start free schools will get priority access to those schools, ‘slimmed down’ basically means watered down. With many more schools becoming their own admissions authorities we need someone who is tough , impartial and objective and prepared to stand up for all parents as Chief Adjudicator, not a fellow traveller whose interest is to protect the schools that will inevitably benefit.