The Government allegedly promotes decentralisation and localism but seems to be moving towards greater centralisation, warns Joan Costa Font
of the London School of Economics. Government education policies weaken a key element of democracy - power sharing between central and local governments – while at the same time providing favourable conditions for private sector expansion.
Concerns about this threat to local democracy
have been raised on this site before as long ago as January 2011. And Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted Chief Inspector, has added his voice to the increasing number of calls for a “middle-tier” between central government and schools as the academy conversion programme weakens local authorities. Even the Secretary of State belatedly mused that there ought to be an intermediary
and there weren’t enough mechanisms in place to oversee a growing number of academies. However, it is unclear whether mediators appointed by Ofsted or centrally by Mr Gove would be consistent with democratic local government.
A recent report by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services
said, “Many in education have come to realise, increasingly, that for all the talk of school autonomy, this is a top down change process, demonstrated by the very detailed accountability framework, the tone and in the way it is being enforced through Ofsted and Department for Education field forces.”
The Government has distorted the word “freedom”.