We are the conservatives now. The fight to save good local schools

James Hargrave's picture
Gove is having to look for nasty sounding rhetoric to describe opponents of his free schools and academies policies. So we have been described as "enemies of promise" and even "trots". The reason for the use of this language is simple. It would be hard to mount a huge attack on people who just want good locally managed schools for local children.

This is the view of the majority of the "enemies of promise". We would like you to have a good local school to send your children to and if possible a choice of good local schools. We would like these schools run locally by local people and accountable to parents and the local community. We want local people to make decisions about local schools such as a decision to open a new school. We want this to happen in an accountable way with the people making the decision engaging with the local community.

This does not sound to me a radicle agenda of "progressive" education. In fact I would go as far to say this is a true conservative agenda.

You will notice I said "good" local schools. This is not an agenda for failing schools. Such schools need to be held to account and challenged to improve if necessary. But this should be done locally. Gove suggested that:
What are they saying?

“If you're poor, if you're Turkish, if you're Somali, then we don't expect you to succeed. You will always be second class and it's no surprise your schools are second class.

But what Gove seems to be saying is that if you are poor, or Turkish, or Somali then don't expect to run your own school or have a say. You will always need to have your schools run from Westminster as we know better than you what your children need and what success is.

To me the real "enemies of promise" are the new educational establishment run by ideologically driven neo-liberals who are undertaking an experiment in supply side economics in your local school. These people don't listen to reason or appeals to common sense. So what if a new school isn't needed, nobody wants it and it will make other good schools worse. Nothing must get in the way of progress and choice.

These ideologues are surrounded by career opportunists who are making a fortune from the new policies that began under the last Government and have gathered pace under the Coalition. There are the Academy Chain CEOs who can earn up to £280K a year and the "revolving door" staff who move from senior positions in the DfE and Ofsted straight into high paying jobs in the educational companies.

And there are growing numbers of companies in this education"industry" willing to employ these people and try and increase their "market share" offering branches of educational supermarkets rather than good local schools.

This new educational establishment of ideologues and career opportunists are the new progressives in education. And the funny thing is that we are left to defend the traditional educational values of local schools for local people against a bunch of reckless ideologues. Isn't life strange?

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Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 16/02/2012 - 09:40

The present Government isn’t even conservative (with a small “c”). People who are conservative (small “c”) tend to favour tradition and be restrained and cautious. Mr Gove uses the first characteristic for propaganda purposes but abandons the rest. He says he espouses traditional education but his idea of tradition is confined to the academic at the expense of vocational, authoritarian discipline as opposed to self-discipline and more "rigorous" exams which at the same time more pupils are expected to pass. And his idea of education is confined to easily-tested knowledge within a set of approved subjects which downgrade the creative and neglect important skills that pupils will need to lead a full life after school.

So why is this Government promoting a policy which will damage, not enhance, the education of so many children? The answer is, of course, that the English education system is worth billions of pounds, and there’s an army of management firms, consultants, education providers, lawyers, so-called charities which manage to pay their executives six-figure sums, advisers and outsourcing companies waiting to pounce. And for them education is measured in “efficiency savings” , “raw results” and “the bottom line”.

James Hargrave's picture
Thu, 16/02/2012 - 19:13

I agree this government isn't conservative but neo-liberal. Gove and his supporters like to claim they support a "traditional" education but this is a superficial view. "Traditional" uniforms and logos but underneath the surface these schools are anything but traditional. A good number of what I describe as the new educational establishment seem to be here to make as much money as they can. Whatever Gove might say about the "enemies of promise" few of us came into education to make any money!

Paul Reeve's picture
Thu, 16/02/2012 - 09:45

This might be interesting!?


Paul Reeve's picture
Thu, 16/02/2012 - 12:31

And this from the Radio 4 blurb.....

"As some of England's 200 weakest primary schools fight Government plans to force them to become sponsored Academies, Simon Cox reports on Michael Gove's drive to improve children's achievement.
For the first time, poorly performing primary schools in England are eligible to become sponsored Academies, independent of local authorities and control their own budgets. Some schools are contesting the figures used to class them as failing, claiming that the goalposts have been shifted and that improvements are already being achieved. Several are refusing to convert without a fight. The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, recently branded those opposing his plans at one school in North London as the "enemies of promise" and part of a "Trot campaign".
However, over sixty of those approached by Westminster's Department of Education have grasped the opportunity and are in the process of finding a sponsor and preparing to move out of local authority control.
With only a handful of primary schools already operating as Academies and dispute over the results of some secondary school Academies, what's the evidence this mandatory, wide scale and fundamental shift will benefit children's education? Simon Cox examines the figures behind an increasingly fractious fight."

Interesting use of language here.....

" .....over sixty of those approached by Westminster's Department of Education have grasped the opportunity."

Janet Lallysmith's picture
Thu, 16/02/2012 - 15:19

I'm not sure that the parents, teachers and governors at Coleraine Park in Haringey would say that they're grasping the opportunity of being "bullied" into being "handed over to a Tory donor."


Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 16/02/2012 - 15:40

The Evening Standard printed a quote by a Department for Education spokeswoman who was asked to comment about the resignation of the Downhills Head. She said: "We have been clear that we consider academy status to be the best way to improve schools that are consistently under-performing. Academies have already turned around hundreds of struggling secondary schools ... and are improving their results at twice the national average rate."

That statement is untrue. See link below.



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