Coalition Video States Priorities.

Trevor Fisher's picture

A video nasty for Halloween and beyond

What the Tories are planning for education is still dominated by academies and free schools, with the academy programme seen as a magic bullet for school improvement – and David Cameron's article in the Telegraph of August 14th did not mention grammar schools. The best guide to the plans remain an obscure but revealing video issued by the coalition in March 2014 which announced a 'School Revolution' – a phrase previously used only by the Spectator – two thirds of which was devoted to academies and free schools.

Still available on the DfE web site and YouTube, its philosophy underlines the Cameron reforms, though his right wing would prefer grammars and important gestures to them are happening. However the objectives set out in the video remain the touchstone for Tory policy and this video nasty is vital viewing – particularly on Halloween, though alas it will remain relevant when the pumpkins have been shredded, unlike the policy.

THE SCHOOL REVOLUTION is the theme of the new SOSS briefing, which is now available FREE via the SOSS website. This analyses five key problems for this academic year – the School Revolution itself - the myth of the self improving 'opt out' autonomous 'free' school – the drive to turn schools into exam factories – key shortages notably teachers and school places – and the uncertain future of a system driven by politicians.

The briefing can be obtained FREE by emailing enquiries(at)

After Halloween, the nightmares will grow worse!

Trevor Fisher, convenor SOSS.

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Michele -Lowe's picture
Wed, 28/10/2015 - 13:51

I have just watched the govt promo for Free Schools and Academies and it's not subtle. It's striking, too, how many times the current system is denigrated. Usual tactic: rubbish what is already there in order to replace it with the new plan.
I have just started filling in a questionnaire open to all licence fee payers canvassing their opinion on output. I shall be asking why the reporting on education has been so limited. The questionnaire is called the BBC tomorrow. I think it's worth raising these points at a time when they're actually asking for feedback. And whilst I think the general coverage of education has been poor, not just in broadcasting but also in newspapers, it's hardly as though the Opposition has been making a counter case. They really don't seem to have an alternative to the juggernaut of academisation.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 09:27

Michele - the video is an extended plug for free schools and academies which are, of course, presented as being at the vanguard of school reform.

Natalie Evans, then of the New Schools Network, the taxpayer funded charity which the NAHT leader has described as being the 'battering ram' for Gov't policies, has since been awarded a seat in the Lords where she sits as a Tory peer banging the drum for Ark and Harris.

One of the Perry Beech free schools, much lauded in the video, has since been judged Inadequate.

Part of the video praises the National Curriculum. But academies don't have to follow the curriculum. Didn't the advert makers realise that?

But the funniest thing is that the video celebrates a maths technique which the then schools minister Liz Truss had denigrated. It appears it's 'tortured' when it appears in LA schools but innovatory when it's used in a free school.

David Barry's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 15:01


Indeed the perry beech Free School you mention was put in to special measures.

There is a press report in the Birmingham Mail 9 JUL 2015 by Emma McKinney from which we learn:

"Perry Beeches III plunged into special measures after Ofsted criticises leaders and brands teaching 'dull'"

and also:

"Both Mr Gove and Mr Cameron attended the opening of the Perry Beeches III free school in 2013, describing it as the future of British education."

and further

"Perry Beeches III is among the five schools operated by Perry Beeches Academy Trust, led by renowned ‘superhead’ Liam Nolan"

There are two interesting points about this:-

1. Liam Nolan does not accept the OfSted verdict

" (He is) appealing the Ofsted grading and has taken over as interim headteacher of Perry Beeches III, alongside former Perry Beeches II head, Jackie Powell. Mr Nolan said:

“I’m a real believer in accountability and I believe people should be watching what I am doing and keeping us in check. But I believe Ofsted has got it fundamentally wrong. How can we be special measures when we are applying exactly the same model of teaching and running a school at Perry Beeches III as we are at the ‘outstanding’ academy and Perry Beeches II?”

Which to my mind certainly ups the ante as he is saying that the school must be really all right as it is being run in the same way as the other schools he is responsible for as Executive Head Teacher. Hmm.

2. Not only does he not accept the verdict, the verdict, (which he does not accept), is not his fault.

“I wasn’t head here when we were inspected, it wasn’t on my watch,” he said.

The immediate outcome of the inspectionhas been that the Head, Deputy head and Assistant Head, and Chair of Governors of Perry Beech iii have all resigned.

But Mr Nolan has now pledged to “sort out” the crisis.

““But I’m rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in. My job now is to make sure these kids get a brilliant education, it’s not about Ofsted, it is about them.”

The full press story is here:-

David Barry's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 15:05

BUT since 9 July there has been a development

SchoolsWeek has it in a report by John Dickins October 12:

"The government is investigating an allegation of financial irregularity at an academy trust previously praised by Prime Minister David Cameron. Department for Education officials are looking into the concerns raised about Perry Beeches Academy Trust, which runs five schools in Birmingham."

Full story here:

Michele -Lowe's picture
Tue, 03/11/2015 - 12:48

Janet, believe me, the propagandist nature of the video hadn't escaped me. My favourite part was Mr Nolan, Executive Head Teacher Perry Beeches.
"This is a school where there are clear rules and regulations and it's created so that they get the best education. Now some fact the majority are delighted with that and fight to get a place in a Perry Beeches school. Some parents don't want that for their young people. And if they don't like what we have to offer, if they don't want their young people to be exceptionally (said with great emphasis) taught and to be somewhere where there is a uniform and there is (sic) expectations of how we move around the building, how we speak to people we respect. When we enter classrooms children stand up and we say good morning. The very basis of good manners are taught at Perry Beeches. If that isn't what parents want then that isn't the school for them".
To sum up, then, any parent who doesn't want what we have to offer is a fool. So reading David's account of the trouble at Perry Beeches Free School didn't come as a total surprise. Funny in the abstract, but a lot more serious in real life.

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