|Downhills Primary school protests against forced academy|
Michael Gove may have been making a shambles of education policies over the last couple of months but his position has, if anything, strengthened within the cabinet. The rebellious right-wing of the Tory Party hail him as one of the government’s few successes and his policies are becoming more extreme in response.
Looking beyond the GCSE marking fiasco and the failure of several free schools to open on time, it is clear that a contradictory combination of privatisation and greater central government control of schools is succeeding in dividing and fragmenting the education system.
Labour has failed to oppose these moves, tainted as it is by the fact that it started the process. Stephen Twigg has been ambivalent about free schools and academies and Lord Adonis’s recent intervention suggesting that private schools should sponsor academies ‘taking complete responsibility for the governance and leadership’ will undermine democratic accountability further.
We need a massive popular campaign, such as that for the NHS, to build opposition to Gove’s policies, perhaps under the heading of Reclaim Our Schools (‘Keep Our Schools Public’ may confuse people!) The possibility of such a campaign was clear in the case of Downshill Primary School in Haringey when pupils, parents, teachers and governors took to the streets to demonstrate against Gove’s decision to force the school to become an academy.
In campaigning to Reclaim Our Schools we could:
- Resist academy conversions
- Oppose free schools
- Call for a good, local, democratically accountable, school for every child
- Campaign against the Coalition Government’s ruling that any new school must be either a free school or an academy
- Campaign for all free schools and academies to be reintegrated back into the local authority community of schools
- Press for democratic accountability through elected governing bodies and local authorities
- Demand fair admissions arrangements and fair funding
- Demand that all schools should accept children with special needs and be resourced as necessary
- Oppose Gove’s examination reforms that look likely to return us to a two-tier system and mean that many students would leave school without any qualification
- Call for the end of the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check which the NUT Survey showed 9 out of 10 teachers thought was ‘A lode ov owld rubbish’
- Press for quality teacher assessment of pupils rather than SATs
- Encourage ‘bottom up’ curriculum and learning innovations lead by classroom teachers rather than ‘top down’ imposed curriculum and learning strategies
- Reform inspection so that it becomes a positive professional partnership rather than a politicised pressure on schools to conform to the government’s agenda
- Argue for the needs and interests of children to be put back at the centre of the education system rather than the needs of industry or the UK’s position in international comparison tables
- Make ‘Reclaim Childhood’ a central demand for children who are presently the most tested, pressurised and (in the case of the annual ‘dumbing down of exams’ campaign), rubbished generation.
Learning for a full life rather than just work, no taxation without representation, and the right to enjoy childhood – who could argue with that?
There's a great article by Michael Rosen on the upcoming Year 6 tests HERE