Sunday 13 October 2013

Hunt dashes hopes for clear Labour support for democratically accountable schools

With the last non-faith secondary school in Brent about to be forced to become an academy and four free schools in the pipeline for the borough, many teachers, trade unionists and parents have been looking to Labour to propose an alternative.

They have been disappointed locally by the Labour Council's failure to support the campaign against forced academy status for the popular Gladstone Park Primary School and its sacking of the governing body at Copland High School.

Nationally there was much impatience with Stephen Twigg's failure to take on the Coalition over education with the same energy and commitment as Andy Burnham had done with health. He failed to adopt a clear position on free schools, academies and privatisation and became known on Twitter as the 'Silent Twigg'.

However any hopes that his post-reshuffle successor would be any better have been shattered by Tristram Hunt's statements on free schools over the weekend. He came out in support of free schools with a few caveats, and failed to address the issues of democratic accountability and supporting the role of local authorities..

After his appearance on the Andrew Marr show my Twitter feed was full of disillusioned comments. Here are a few of them:

I read this and despair! Its a free for all! Hunt signals Labour policy shift on free schools

Dear Labour, if I wanted Tory style welfare policies, I'd vote Tory.

Where is the evidence based policy?Why aren't we comparing with other countries? Failure of Free Schools in Sweden and Charter schools in US

So given today's announcements it's a pretty bad day to be on the Labour left. Remind me how the reshuffle was a cull of Blairites?

Seen as Labour are determined to be the same as Gove on education I think it is time to leave the Labour party & join the Greens

How many media interviewers will ask Hunt why he has rejected the democratic model of a 'free school' and adopted a Tory one?

Tories co-opted and distorted democratic localism in schools and turned it into market localism controlled by Sec of State = totalitarianism

I'm 52 a teacher I have only just joined the Labour Party, and now I have to tear up my card, shame on you Hunt

Looks like only party believes local authorities should be in charge of schools now.

what experience of state education have u got? were u state educated? ever taught in a state school?
Not good one of his first comments should be to support Free schools. shame on him!

Very disappointed by Tristram Hunt's "parent-led academy" idea. Local authorities need a stronger role in education, not a weaker one

Don't expect change from Labour- they're keeping free schools and so continuing with destruction of local democracy

Naturally if Tristram Hunt knew anything at all about state education he would know that local authorities haven't "run" schools for years.


Anonymous said...

It's the same old gutlessness when it comes to attempting to confidently argue a principled alternative, carry the public with you and let them see the direct connection between educational success and societal equality. Blair, even with a landslide, never attempted to do this, tried to keep as quiet as possible about his more progressive policies and ended up leaving the debate exactly where he found it in 97.
Where's the sense in what Hunt has promised? Is Gove so revered by the mass of state school parents that Hunt is afraid to challenge him? Doesn't he know that 'Free' schools are resented or thought a joke by most people whether they know about the experience of Sweden or not? Does he think Toby Young is seen as a role model by ordinary parents? Does he think he has to placate the Daily Mail or risk being characterised as 'Tristram the Trot'?
I await his views on education and genetics.
Anyone think of a reason to vote Labour?

Anonymous said...

In answer to your previous contributor's final question: no, I can't think of a reason to vote Labour.
Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems all seem to have ditched any principles that their parties may have had in the past, and be scrabbling to claim the "centre ground" which they see as the key to gaining or holding onto power. I can't see many positive reasons for voting for any of them. It is either a question of choosing a candidate from one of them who seems the least worst of the three "main" parties, or going Green if your views are on the left of the spectrum or UKIP if they are on the right.