It is almost five years since we set up the Local Schools Network. I think we are all amazed and pleased at how it has developed as a forum for views and ideas, and become an established part of the education landscape.
So this morning, on the day Parliament is dissolved and the writs are issues in constituencies around the country, I thought it might be worth reminding everyone of why we set up the site in the aftermath of the 2010 election. We founded the Local Schools Network because we wanted to give a voice to parents who use and support their local schools. We wanted to celebrate the achievements of those schools and to remind people that local non selective education systems are more than just a vehicle for good solid educational achievement. They can knit communities together and enable children to understand diversity as well as to share their common humanity.
We were outraged by the suggestion, so prominent in the 2010 election, that parents were so disillusioned with their local schools that they would flood to open new "free" schools. We also wanted to provide a place where we, and others, could dispel some of the myths that are perpetuated on a daily basis about state schools by the media, and sadly by some politicians. These are myths and lies about how our schools are run, about what goes on in them and also about how they should be supported and improved where necessary. We are proud to have also produced our first e-book"School Myths- and the evidence that blows them apart"
Five years on, things look a little different. There are question marks over the performance of some new diverse types of school, concern about the fragmentation of the system and about lack of clear local oversight. There are thousands of schools being micro-managed from Westminster, areas of the country where there aren't enough school places at all and, in the wake of Michael Gove's departure, renewed interest from all the political parties in collaboration, rather than competition, and in the future of the teaching profession.
There are also other grass roots activists like Madeleine Holt who founded Meet the Parents
. You can see Madeleine here
talking about why she started a local networking programme to encourage people to use their local schools, and how it has taken off in London.
So the 2010 Parliament is gone. But we are still standing and in the next five years will continue to make the case that it is great heads and teachers and flourishing local all ability schools, answerable to their communities, challenged when necessary but always supported, that will provide the route to personal success for each young person and to a fairer more cohesive society.