Will Academies have to pay the money back? Plus American Civil Rights and Twitter

Allan Beavis's picture
I wonder if the Academies that have been over-funded by as much as £300 per pupil, thanks to Gove’s incompetence, will have to pay it back? Or will they get to keep it, on top of what they already receive in sums that have been taken out of local authority maintained schools, which no longer officially or politically exist (the DfE website, as we know, ignore them)? Plus the additional money their “town hall would spent on related services such as transport and special needs provision”. And about £25,000 to cover costs of setting up a charitable trust and negotiating complex land transfers, as this today piece in The Guardian highlights.

The embarrassment over the Financial Times’ uncovering of these errors (which Gove blames on local authorities and Labour – how? why?) and his poor and stuttering media performances yesterday, are the latest in a string of gaffes which do nothing to inspire confidence in either the Education Secretary’s implementation of a school reform policy EVEN IF the policies themselves were a magic wand that was very likely to improve schools for everyone all over the country. This is just adding insult to injury. Gove is already facing legal challenges (any lawyers here able to give an estimate on legal fees?) arising from his ill-considered and cack-handed actions in cutting at least £148m from LA funds to siphon into Academies

Gove cited Barack Obama in a speech yesterday afternoon, cringingly saying that "Education reform is the civil rights battle of our time. In Britain, as in the USA, access to a quality education has never mattered more, but access to a quality education is rationed for the poor, the vulnerable and those from minority communities." No point re-hashing statistics here, as other contributors to this site have done so in other posts, but his statement about the poor and the vulnerable do not sit comfortably with research showing that his new schools aren’t placed to advantage the vulnerable.

Worse, his evocation of the civil rights movement with it’s still sensitive legacy of African-American integration, draws attention to not only the failure of the US Charter School System in improving education across the board, but also its particular failure to raise achievements in poor areas, which is where you will find a larger concentration of black and Hispanic children.

I wrote about the myth of Charters here , and there are other great posts here on them too but I just found a New York Times piece  by American journalist Bob Herbert, the latest in a long line of critics who have pointed out that “The current obsession with firing teachers, attacking unions and creating ever more charter schools has done very little to improve the academic outcomes of poor black and Latino students. Nothing has brought about gains on the scale that is needed.”

So, Academization for Academization’s sake of schools here can be seen as ineffective in light of the American example, but Gove will ignore it and propagate the myth that American School Reform, even under Obama, will be the miracle cure.
The evidence says otherwise, but Sam Freedman, the policy adviser to Gove when the Tories were in opposition and now on the DfE’s payroll not as an adviser but a civil servant, is keen to breach a civil servant’s duty to impartiality by using Twitter, as I posted here, , to defend and promote the questionable actions and policies of leading American school reformers such as Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, presumably as a means of propping up his and Gove’s misguided pilfering of the Charter system and introducing this ideology into Academies and Free Schools here.
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Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 14:50

Without wishing to wind up our comrades in Reading again, I do wonder how any politician can go on about being passionate about access to good schools for poorer children without addressing the blatant discrimination against the poor and vulnerable in selective areas.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 16:47

Mr Gove likes to use references to link his policies with great movements in history. Unfortunately for him, these reveal his crassness. It was not so long ago that the Telegraph reported 'Mr Gove wrote that he would like to see British schools undergo “a cultural revolution just like the one they’ve had in China” '. The article berated Mr Gove for his ignorance.


Allan Beavis's picture
Sat, 18/06/2011 - 12:32

I have been a very regular visitor to China and it is a sad fact that the repression of education, thought, debate, culture and human rights that the terrible and mad period of the Chinese Cultural Revolution has meant that China - now politically and economically strong for the first time in its troubled history - is still struggling with the legacy.

The Chinese have always valued education as a means of spiritual and self-advancement and thus the people who gave education - teachers - were, and are now once again, highly valued and respected member of their community and society.

Not so during the Cultural Revolution when all teachers, intellectuals and artists were tortured and killed so that the population were taught that absolute obedience and submission to the state and Chairman Mao was the only way to escape certain death. Survival was another matter altogether, as he plunged China into the dark ages of extreme poverty for all but the elite of the corrupt ruling class.

The legacy is still that many people in power in China now are of the post-Cultural Revolution generation with the mindset that , however more liberal policy and society has become there, debate and culture is still intrinsically subversive somehow and not really to be encouraged. Gove's unfortunate placing of this tragic period of Chinese history in line with his educational reforms is sickening and invites horrible comparisons between the ideologies of the Right Wing and the Repression of the Mao and Stalinist regimes

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 08/11/2011 - 17:44

I've written a series of blogposts which explore one line of thinking into why the Chinese are so strong at mathematics Allan. They start here:

The've come from my reading of the key study which contrasted US and Chinese teachers teaching strategies and bells they rang when I compared them with my own practice. Essentially we tend to teach algorithms while they seems to teach diverse strategies which are wrapped around primitive structures and core axioms. I hope you find it interesting.

My teaching strategies which allowed me to recognised the Chinese ones were those I was taught by brilliant teachers before they were all wiped out during the UK cultural revolution in education.

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