Coffee House

Nick Clegg vs school freedom

19 October 2013

10:50 PM

19 October 2013

10:50 PM

Nick Clegg’s aides have been briefing the Sunday newspapers saying (in effect) that he that he’s had enough of this school freedom malarkey. Certain head teachers are using their new liberties in ways of which he disapproves. So if he’s in government after the next election, he’ll curtail these freedoms somehow. He’s chosen to enter the squabble over ‘qualified’ teachers (a canard, explained below). He also proposes curtailing freedoms teachers have been given over the curriculum. But the more important overall point is that he’s positioning himself as being opposed to Michael Gove’s reforms.

‘Clegg turns on Michael Gove over his ‘ideological’ BW94-q3IEAA2oCLschool reforms’ says The Observer (right). The Independent on Sunday has a similar story. Clegg is planning a speech where he will say

“Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education”

In itself, an uncontroversial statement. But for those in the know, it’s a dog whistle. The i-word is the accusation that the unions level at Tories who trust teachers to teach. Except this particular ‘ideology’ is known as liberalism.

What’s Liberal about the Lib Dems?

You really do give up with the Liberal Democrats. You’d think the clue was in the name. They want to curtail freedom of the press, and now school freedom. As Jeremy Browne said on BBC Sunday Politics, “free schools are a small ‘l’ liberal policy.” He supports them but, in a dig at Clegg, said it would be a shame if his party were to become a pale imitation of Labour. Browne is a real liberal, so is David Laws. But the Lib Dems, as a party, do tend to be like a broken supermarket trolley: you can try to push them straight but they always veer to the left.

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It’s funny: one of the (many) things you learn from Matthew d’Ancona’s brilliant history of the coalition thus far is that Michael Gove offered to give the schools job to David Laws, a Lib Dem. But the Lib Dems are no friend of liberty, as Clegg keeps demonstrating. (Laws is fine, but it’s Clegg – always worried about his own political position – who overrule him). As things turned out, Gove passed the Academies Act in 77 days and conferred freedoms that would take an act of parliament to revoke. Including freedom over the curriculum, to let teachers teach what they want. If Clegg is to be taken seriously, then he proposes to curtail these freedoms with a kind of ‘Back In Your Box, You Dumb Teachers, And Take New Marching Orders’ Act 2015.

Some 170 new free schools are open – two or three have problems, as you’d expect. This is what freedom looks like. And there will be more problems like the Muslim school in Derby which has failed so spectacularly. But notice the fuss being made, notice how quickly action is being taken. If only sink schools in the state sector were remedied as fast.

The furore actually shows that Gove’s system is working. The one-in-five 16-18 year olds in state schools who are functionally illiterate and innumerate show how badly the system of council monopoly over state school provision has failed. As do the 25,000 who’ll quit school this year with no qualifications to show for their time in classrooms.

The ‘qualified teachers’ canard. Free Schools and Academies have freedom hire brilliant people who may not have official Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This drives the unions mad. Free schools can, for example, hire staff from overseas who may not have sat the QTS tests, or hire teachers from the higher education sector. Or linguists, engineers, computer whizzes –  private schools already top up their teams with such outsiders. Now state schools do too, and the unions go spare. This also means head teachers don’t have to rely on staff who have been through the  established teacher training colleges, which are often hotbeds of mediocrity. When Gove granted these freedoms, the head of the Independent Academies Association had this to say:-

“Virtually all teachers in academies will continue to have the teaching qualification; where there are severe shortages of suitable staff or specialists in subjects like computing or technology, the new flexibility will be extremely useful.”

Now unions want Clegg to remove this freedom. The Deputy Prime Minister is choosing to spin this their way: that freedom over staff (explained here) means free schools will be filled with clueless backpackers who have no qualifications. He’ll say:-

 “Frankly it makes no sense to me to have qualified teacher status if only a few schools have to employ qualified teachers.. We should have qualified teachers in all our schools.”

Of course, the vast majority of teacher in all schools have QTS – the debate is whether there should be any (say) the odd Mandarin specialist who can help without having gone through teacher training colleges. So Clegg, technically, is saying nothing that contradicts his government’s reforms. But rhetorically, he has crossed the floor.

Clegg is, at least, talking about a post-2015 scenario. David Cameron would never sponsor legislation to repeal  freedoms granted in his Academies Act (well, not before an election anyway). So it doesn’t really matter what Clegg thinks about how schools should be run. The Tories have given teachers these powers. It’s odd to think that only Tories trust teachers enough to use them.

P.S. The longer extract from Clegg’s speech is below:-

“We believe greater autonomy enables school leaders to take responsibility in those areas where they know what’s best for their pupils, while also giving them the freedom to innovate. But it shouldn’t surprise you if I say that, although we work well with the Conservatives, our two parties still have differences of opinion, some strongly held. Looking to the future, there are aspects of schools policy currently affected by the priorities of the Conservative Party which I would not want to see continue.

“For example, while I want to give schools the space to innovate, I also believe every parent needs reassurance that the school their child attends, whatever its title or structure, meets certain core standards of teaching and care – a parental guarantee, if you like.

“Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education. They don’t care about the latest political label attached to their child’s school. What they want, and expect, is that their children are taught by good teachers, get taught a core body of knowledge, and get a healthy meal every day. What’s the point of having a national curriculum if only a few schools have to teach it? Let’s teach it in all our schools. And what’s the point of having brilliant new food standards if only a few schools have to stick to the rules? Let’s have quality food in all our schools.

“Diversity among schools, yes. But good universal standards all parents can rely on, too. And, frankly, it makes no sense to me to have qualified teacher status if only a few schools have to employ qualified teachers.”

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Show comments
  • Jupiter

    Diddums. Poor little Cleggy has thrown his toys out of the pram again.

  • Laura McInerney

    Except, there are free schools where most staff are unqualified. And examples such as New York City in the 1980s, who liberalised the need for qualification, and then found 20 years later that schools serving the most vulnerable populations had more unqualifieds than qualifieds should show us that this ‘liberalisation’ is a slippery slope. There is simply no reason why any competent overseas trained teacher, or someone moving from HE, cannot *get* their teacher qualification. This does not have to be done through ‘mediocre’ institutions which the Spectator likes to pretend are a hotbed of leftwing militancy. Programmes such as SchoolsDirect, TeachFirst, and portfolio-only enable schools to train incomers in a plethora of way – many of which are much-praised by the current government.

    • iviv44

      Sure, but e.g. if you want to hire a star teacher from an Independent school to head a department, do you really want them spending time on picking up a piece of paper rather than spending time on the education of children? I am sure that the people affected *could* get QTS easily enough but is it really a sensible use of time and resources?

      • Laura McInerney

        Yes. The benefit of one superstar teacher who can’t be bothered to pass qts (which, for someone leading people getting qualifications, is very odd) does not outweigh the damage that many teachers hired indiscriminately could do among the most vulnerable.

  • Peter Stroud

    It is time that idiot Clegg was robustly challenged to cease politically motivated U turns. He has already scuppered the boundary changes bill: after saying how truly democratic it was. All because MPs threw out his Lords reform bill; that was, in truth a Lords abolition bill. The man is a typical LibDem hypocrite and turn coat.

  • Smithersjones2013

    The things is power hungry despots like Clegg don’t want the British people to be educated because if they are his particular ideology of political malevolence will be seen through in a second. Labour’s mantra of dumbing down is fine for the Cleggs of this world. Its the easiest way to keep ‘us plebs’ in our place.

    Public school boys like Clegg shut down Grammar Schools for much the same reason and now they are trying to do it again!

    Tell me why is it we tolerate this juvenile arsonist?

    • Abhay

      I can’t more agree with you. Hopefully, this guy will not get elected again.

      But I am slightly pessimistic. A confident nation should not elect such people as their reps who have no idea whether they are coming or going but instead are wedded to some toxic notion of ”progress” and are puking ”progressive” sanctimony and piety all the time regardless of the issue at hand.

  • la Catholic state

    Every school should be a Free School.

  • la Catholic state

    They love to ignore parents’ wishes. Of course our opinions don’t count in the matter of our children’s education….even though parents as taxpayers pay for it..

    But we love Free schools…..and we don’t want to go back to State controlled, put up or shut up, bottom of the class, state education. Euwww….

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    “School freedoms”?
    Freedom to do what?
    Derby?

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    He’s just showing a bit of leg to Labour in the hope of a Lib/lab coalition after the next election.

  • norfolk101

    The veiled agenda behind the mention of ideology is referring to faith schools, but Clegg knows he will lose the message once the wailing godbotherers start their noise.

  • James Smart

    I agree with the thrust Gove’s reforms. However, he is far too focused on the macro level; Heads with autonomy and loosening the grip of the teacher training colleges does not deal with the real problem: how pupils are taught. The OFSTED criteria for assessing lessons means that an Outstanding lesson is almost certainly full of ‘group work’, ‘paired discussion’ and some kind of ‘ creative task’. It simply bears no relation to what Gove seems to (rightly) want, which is some actual teaching. He really needs to change things at this level to effigy any real change.

  • itdoesntaddup

    As former Westminster teacher John Goodall pointed out, he and the majority of the staff had not been through teacher training, yet the school results aren’t bad. Evidently they failed to teach Clegg properly though.

  • lgrundy

    ” teacher training colleges…are often hotbeds of mediocrity”
    If only that was all they were. Unfortunately they are also “hotbeds” of cultural Marxism and other similar strains of left-wing ideology of the kind that has been undermining Western civilisation for the past 40-odd years. They’re anything but ‘mediocre’ when it comes to promulgating subversive Leftism.

    • Greenslime

      The extremists are not the problem. They are relatively easy to spot and neutralise.

      The real problem that these establishments produce is a constant flow of ‘wet’ lefties. The “it’s not fair brigade”. The Libdems are full of this sort of sandal wearing, meandering, modern day appeasement artists. You know, those who were so pleased that they had stopped the UK from participating in stopping Asad but are not whingeing constantly because of the terrible things that are going on in Syria. Loads of moaning, precious little constructive input.

      If you want more kids who think like this, just let these wet lefties continue to qualify for teaching. That said, there isn’t much else these clowns can do anyway.

  • Ron Todd

    It has been a long time since the liberals were liberal.

    The socialists only want to control what we do the liberals want to control what we think.

  • sarah_13

    I wish you would go on question time, along with anyone remotely coherent and persuasive and explain the above to the idiotic audience who gave such roaring applause to that “ideological” import Bonnie ” Germaine” Greer! I don’t know what she thnks Britain is but her constant inappropriate projections of US society onto the UK get on my nerves.

    • la Catholic state

      Does she even have children?!

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    There’s no squabble about it really.The executive effects of headteachers can’t be easily brought to account at the level of the ordinary human being.

  • 2trueblue

    Clegg arrived on the centre stage because he sounded good on the telly. Like all people who have their ‘famous moment’ it is hard to follow it up, and that is where Mr Clegg has got to. He is writing it on the hoof and his grasp of what democracy truely is appears flawed. He sometimes just wants to be heard waving his tongue about rather than articulating what true democracy is. This is evident in his current arguments re education changes and his change of mind on boundary changes in a fit of pique because he did not get his own way on another matter. Frankly Clegg does not do democracy on any level.

    • telemachus

      But if he is able to moderate Gove’s doctrinaire approach to education he will have done the public a service
      Derby has given us a warning
      Woe betide Gove
      Indeed woe betide us all if we do not heed

      • kyalami

        Too late. Free schools are succeeding and the tide will wash away the crumbling, failing reactionary NUTters.

        • telemachus

          Derby?

          • kyalami

            Against Derby there are hundreds of failing state schools.

            • telemachus

              Then send in hit squads to turn them round rather than plonking another school next door

              • kyalami

                We have. They are called free schools.

                • telemachus

                  plonked next door-that is the Educational Social Darwinism that is so sinister
                  Practised in 1930’s Germany

                • kyalami

                  Since you raise Darwinism, I have to say that I would prefer a succeeding school rather than a failing one. There;s nothing sinister in that: quite the opposite.

                  The 1930s Germany reference is a non-sequitur and a typical smear.

                • telemachus

                  Problem is that Gove is using the children in the failing school as a weapon and they often have no advocate

                • neotelemachus

                  The 1930s is in reference to his part’s own national socialist ethos.

                • iviv44

                  and Godwin’s Law strikes again. amateur.

                • telemachus

                  See below
                  Mike Goodwin clearly was wrong

                • Smithersjones2013

                  No its the propaganda you are peddling that is reminiscent of 1930’s Germany. William Joyce would be proud!

                • telemachus

                  Not propaganda
                  We have a duty to put right the calumnies of Gove

            • Mr Arthur Cook

              I don’t know of any “state schools” where girls are segregated in a mixed school and where the staff are forced to cover their heads.
              ……and all paid for by my money!!!

        • Mynydd

          We will only know if Free Schools have succeeded when children have started and finished their education in them. Until that happens it’s far to early to say the are succeeding or not.

          • la Catholic state

            We know state schools have failed many children. And now they seem to specialise in failing working class white boys.

            Of course they should have been sent to strong Christian schools….where they wouldn’t have been deliberately cut off from their spiritual heritiage.

            • Nicholas K

              Clegg is well aware of that; it’s why he has made sure he has opted out of mainsteam schools for his own children and sent them to The Oratory.

              • telemachus

                Each and every individual will try to manipulate the system to give an unfair leg up,to their offspring
                This is human nature
                It is our duty and necessary for a fair society that we preclude such options
                We need to legislate now to remove charitable status to private schools now and then institute a progressive tax on places in these institutions such that the only private schools left will be forced to Eire
                That way we will get rid of the us and them toffs that lead amongst other things to this dreadful coalition

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            We already know that state schools are failing as you so ably demonstrate.

          • 2trueblue

            Well it took us 13yrs to discover that Liebore made a total mess of education, so they can not do worse. I think it is reasonable to be able to measure progress as the years go by.

            The main thing is to maintain standards and to engender a love of learning in the next generation, and to ensure that they aspire to and are getting the very best for them. Liebore did not help children to achieve the best they could and that is being changed.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Sorry Corporal Jones your panic is showing. We have had enough of the Labour party and its filthy lies.

        • telemachus

          Sadly for you in 18 months we will be back

          • kyalami

            Who is “we”? Seen the trend in opinion polls?

            • telemachus

              With UKIP delivering the Tory marginals it is no contest

              • kyalami

                As usual, you dodge answering the question, so I will ask it again:

                Seen the trend in opinion polls?

                • telemachus

                  Given the above forget conventional polling

                • kyalami

                  Ah. Ignoring the facts. Yet you would wish to tell people how to teach.

                • telemachus

                  No
                  Teachers need to apply best practice
                  Not, as Nick says, play some ideological tune

                • iviv44

                  You are forgetting that our friend fundamentally believes in monopolies – as long as they are run by his ideological allies. Facts are only facts if he says so, and of course he thinks he has the right to tell people how and what to teach. I am coming to the conclusion that the attacks on Gove are mainly from those who simply cannot envisage anyone wanting to do something for the better of someone else rather than their own pet producer monopoly.

                • telemachus

                  At least the framework

            • iviv44

              I think he means “sadly for the nation” — but of course excellent news for Labour politicos and their union cronies

      • 2trueblue

        Glegg is just looking for airtime now, and he is fetting it not because what he has to say is of value but because the media are anti Conservative. Were this a the Liebore government Clegg would not be heard.

        • telemachus

          Clegg is cunning
          We all need to watch him but he is correct here

          • 2trueblue

            In your esteemed opinion of course!

            • telemachus

              And therefore correct

              • 2trueblue

                Change your pills.

      • HookesLaw

        You are the doctrinaire one
        Clegg has given just one more reason why he is not fit for government.
        Transparently he is pitching as best he can to snivel up to the socialists. And clearly he prefers the teacher vote not the parent one
        The LDs deserve wipe out at the next GE

        • telemachus

          Look
          We will welcome Clegg as a tool to achieve victory
          We will never get into bed with the worm

          • Hexhamgeezer

            And as a worm resident in Ball’s tract, with cousins up Bed Clearer Burnham’s you are an excellent judge of other nematodes.

            • telemachus

              Would that be an ad hominem?
              Shame on you

              • Hexhamgeezer

                Yes it would. Now FKoff

        • the viceroy’s gin

          If the LD’s are so unfit, then why is it you socialist Camerluvvies were so desperate to get into a coalition with them?

      • Smithersjones2013

        Indeed a gross dis-service

        • telemachus

          Anything that destabilises Gove

  • Daniel Maris

    The Free School movement has been a wonderful gift to the Sharia promoters. How many hundreds of thousands of Muslim girls will now be consigned to these daily prisons, to be shielded from all Western influence?

  • perdix

    “Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education”. So they would prefer the ideology of the NUT?

    • telemachus

      Disingenuous Brother
      Gove has steamrollered his doctrinaire views through without thought of the consequences other than to crush the teachers unions whose main function is actually to act as a repository of good practice in the important roll of molding the minds of our beloved children
      For once in his miserable life Clegg is right
      Education is too important to be subject to Gove’s ideology
      Too important to society to subject it to Gove’s educational Social Darwinism
      *
      This is becoming so serious that Gove must be removed
      Clegg must go further and withdraw all cooperation on furtherance of free schools within the coalition
      Danny Alexander should use his Treasury powers to bring Gove to heel

      • Ron Todd

        The purpose of the teachers unions is to protect the teachers.

        • telemachus

          From Gove
          *
          And also to promote the integrity and professional expertise of the teachers

          • starfish

            Their actions suggest otherwise

            • Holly

              And their results….?
              By-passing the teacher training colleges is the best part of Gove’s education reforms, and will ensure children are educated to a much higher standard.

            • Wessex Man

              it would be very nice if maybe they could get around to actually teaching the pupils to read and write. Show them a lead how to behave and for once in their lives dress smartly rather in T-Shirts and Jeans with their backsides hanging out!

            • telemachus

              Explain

          • Russell

            For the first time you are correct. Both the Unions and many of the Teachers do not give a fig about the education of children. All they care about is Teachers. Gove is doing well and should be encouraged to go further.

            • telemachus

              That is absolutely not what I said
              Given the doctrinaire policies of Gove we can only rely on the teachers and their Unions to maintain standards and balance

              • Russell

                The only thing people can rely on is the Teachers Union and many of the Teachers will strike and cause disruption to childrens education and the lives of those childrens parents, for their own interests of wages and working conditions and perhaps more importantly their non acceptance of a government policy which is not to their liking.

                • telemachus

                  Government policy that endangers the education of our children

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Gove is trying to build any education system where the pupils emerge both literate and numerate. Trying to rebuild a system crippled by Labour education policies which care only about false statistics and where careerist nobodies like Ed Balls destroy the hopes of children from less privileged backgrounds. Labour have done the same with the NHS. Instead of polluting these threads with your disingenuous rubbish why don’t you do something useful like getting a paper round.

            • telemachus

              But Gove is failing
              Thank God for Derby which draws this to the attention of all

              • Russell

                Derby just shows people that the insanity of Islamism is as bad as Socialist State schools who fail to educate more than 25% of 16 year old children (with school leavers literacy and numeracy skills of 10 year olds)

                • telemachus

                  I think you should withdraw that

                • Russell

                  I think you should withdraw completely from this site and join your pals on CiF as your comments are tiresome Socialist bunkum. You barely achieve more than one up vote per comment (probably Mrs Balls), which should tell even the thickest of posters that that you are almost in a minority of one.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  He votes for himself as a ‘guest’. Who else would be daft enough to agree with any of that rubbish?

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Whereas you should be allowed to spread your disingenuous nonsense unhindered? How very left wing. Keep repeating the same rubbish ad infinite in the hope it will become true. Sorry, but Gove is scouring the rancid filth of socialism from the British education system. You and your producer interests have lost. Now go away.

                • telemachus

                  Lost?
                  Just 18 short months to return

              • iviv44

                Gove is failing to repair the damage done by Labour? Maybe he is not succeeding as much as we would like but at least he is trying, despite the best efforts of people like you to maintain the broken status quo

                • telemachus

                  I am sorry
                  He is promoting elitism and leaving those who are sinking to sink

              • Holly

                And unlike the usual Labour/union ‘cover up with statistics’, it has been put into special measures.

                Where were you during Labour’s FAILED education policies/
                practices, that ended up betraying an entire generation with failing schools, cop out teachers and dismal results.

                This again IS Labour’s problem…They are never too far from having the blame of shambolic policies, that led to shambolic results thrown back in their faces….And that is why they continually try to make out everything the Conservatives do is ‘shambolic’ or a ‘shambles’…..The usual polar opposite trick….

                Truth is Labour, and Miliband know they have nothing to say, because all the results of their time in office show nothing but abysmal failure, neglect of duty, lies, cover-up’s and pretending to have changed, while the same useless lot are around is not really working.

                The public agreeing with a lower cost of living is quite normal, but NOT an election winner.
                We would also agree if Miliband promised us a decent lottery win….Never going to happen, without bigger costs to the public further down the road.

                • telemachus

                  Look son
                  If silver spoons can buy education and divert the best resorces to just 11% of the population you will not achieve excellence
                  This will be addressed

      • kyalami

        If “NUT is a repository of good practice”, why is England slipping down the international league tables in education?

        Fail.

        • telemachus

          Because of Gove

          • kyalami

            No. You would like that but the measurements overwhelmingly reflect the system prior to the existing government.

            • telemachus

              Evidence for that?

              • kyalami

                It takes many years to educate a child and in addition the measurements are historic.

                • telemachus

                  The measurements on average reflect the last 2 years

                • kyalami

                  Evidence for that?

                • telemachus

                  2 year course to GCSE
                  2 year course to A level

                • kyalami

                  And, astonishingly, according to you (a) none of the previous education counted for anything (b) the free schools have delivered poor results against great ones from bog-standard comprehensives and (c) These are *historic* measurements … see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24433320

                  I guess you don’t want to be bothered by the facts.

                • telemachus

                  The facts are clear
                  It is a 2 year course to the measured exams

                • itdoesntaddup

                  The measurements most recently publicised were of those who had already left the school system, up to the age of 24. They had therefore spent the bulk of their schooling (if not all of it) under Labour.

                • telemachus

                  I thinkk you will find that if you go to 24 the formative years were under Major

                • itdoesntaddup

                  2013-24+5 = 1994 . 2013-16 = 1997. We don’t start state education on leaving the womb yet.

                • telemachus

                  Not state education
                  But fair equal and state monitored education

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Michael Gove, scouring the filth of socialism from British education.

        • telemachus

          That is absolutely beyond him
          Reasonableness will shine through

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Kindly define ‘reasonable’. I suspect it is ‘any behaviour which I, in my sole judgement, agree with. Sorry but Michael Gove is ridding our schools of the evil of socialism and it’s wicked adherents.

            • telemachus

              In this case fair and equal
              Not elitist

  • http://www.angryharry.com/ Angry Harry

    Despite approving of your politics in general Fraser, you need to be warned about handing too much power to some teachers.

    It was doing this that led to such a huge decline in standards under Thatcher’s watch.

    She could do nothing about this given the power of the left-dominated media at the time; and the teacher union power.

    Indeed, I remember the Thatcher years well. She might have seemed like a very powerful lady but, in fact, the media was so dominated by the left and feminism at the time that her Tory government was very much blocked from doing much in certain areas. Education being one of these areas.

    • iviv44

      I think that the idea is that parent power provides the balance. The extent to which this will actually happen remains to be seen and may also differ between urban and rural areas. For the approach to work really well, parents need to have choice and the skills to judge which school is right for their child. Whether multiple schools are really viable in rural areas is open to doubt, although the cost / benefit may still work out if it means that education can be better tailored to individual children.

  • Martin Jennerson

    Left-wingers’ defense of their vested interests is so bereft of content that the best they can come up with is to label reforms “ideological”… According to the Oxford Dictionary, ideological is defined as – “pertaining to a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy”

    • telemachus

      Yes
      And that is what Gove is trying on
      The theory and policy are simply that if you create free schools you destroy the teachers organisation and self respect and then make them political tools for your purpose

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        No it is weed out bad schools and throw worthless teachers onto the scrap heap where they belong. Good teachers and good schools can then concentrate on educating their pupils without the interference of the NUT scum etc.

        • telemachus

          Agree bad teachers must go
          Try peer review to achieve this

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            No just sack them.

            • telemachus

              So who will judge

  • NinePillocksInARoom

    Serious question for those who know more than me. Freedom from local authority control is all good and well. But when the Derby Muslim school fails, it falls to central government to sort out the mess. Similarly, any time in the future that a free school fails, a minister will be dragged out onto Newsnight to explain what has gone wrong at the school. Isn’t this a centralisation of massive proportions. And if people in a certain area want an idiot socialist council, why shouldn’t schools reflect that – or putting the point the other way around, weren’t local people in Toryish areas entitled to fight the Labour demolition of grammar schools back in the 70s? I don’t understand how transferring schools from local authorities to central government represents any real kind of freedom.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, this is sidelining local control and transferring it to a central control, which claims to be parceling it back out to select locals, who themselves will likely be members of teacher unions, and we all know where their first loyalty lies.

      Not exactly a high-confidence process flow chart here. It’s quite cumbersome, and there are multiple failure modes presented.

      The caricature at the top is quite apropos.

      • Wessex Man

        Is there anything wrong with taking education away from the Councils we now have, whose Councillors are more worried about the size of their allowances that the well being of the Council tax payers and their children?

        • HookesLaw

          Correct
          Why should local authorities as opposed to some other body be responsible for education

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Spoken like a true socialist LibLabCon clone, seeking strong central government control.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Not all local control will be deficient. One size fits all power grabs are the child of the guy caricatured in the above cartoon, the father of central committees.

          The key in all this is to allow parents to exercise control in their own childrens’ interest. That is the essence of a proper local control. That’s a difficult path to get on, and arguably Boy Gove’s on the way to getting to it, but this central government power grab does not inspire confidence.

    • startledcod

      I am genuinely vexed by this. I was lucky enough to have been educated independently and also lucky enough to have sent my children to independent schools (I still cannot work out we afforded it but the fact we still have a mortgage is a pointer). We chose schools for out children based on what we thought would be best for them, if we thought they weren’t cutting it, if we thought they were failing our children we would have moved the children to another school.

      In an ideal educational world (vouchers) then every interested parent would have the same sanction and in the event that they were unhappy with a school they could move their children to another school. But what about this Derby school, should the State take over parental responsibility? Education should be like, for instance, food shopping, free choice between different providers – I would be happy and confident sending my children to a Tesco or Waitrose school, organisations that know customer service.

      • Daniel Maris

        I agree education vouchers are still the way forward, not least because they would allow the development of a united education system. One of the ways vouchers could be used is to reward schools who share teaching, sports facility and other resources.

        • Tony_E

          But that’s the last thing we need. A ‘united’ education system, to remain truly united in any sense, would have to be regulated in such a way as to remove choice.

          I would like to send my sons to a technical school – one that taught electronics, programming, metalwork and carpentry alongside the staples of Science, Maths and English. But I don’t have that choice, because the powers that be have decided on the cookie cutter education that my children should receive, and therefore I have no choice at all. They will be destined to waste half of their time on RE, Citizenship, Poorly taught history (I would have no objection if the syllabus was better) and Geography (taught with priorities that they will almost certainly never need). And why does anyone ever need to learn French, a dying language spoken by our oldest and most frequent ‘international enemy’? Cantonese? Russian, even Spanish I could understand. But French?

          A unified system would mean that the same academics would be in charge as has always been the case. They don’t have a very good record so far.

          • Russell

            You can now set up a technical free school if you want to, and you can get sufficient interest from other parents, courtesy of Mr Gove..

      • fozz

        Exactly my situation, couldn’t agree more. Actually it’s surprising what you can afford if you put your mind to it and resolve to go without in other ways. Can’t help thinking that if Gove bas alienated the teachers’ unions he can’t be all bad.

        • startledcod

          Michael Gove is an absolute star, not only does he pick fights with teachers but he appears to enjoy it, he is bright articulate and on top of his brief, which is one of the main reasons he gets up teachers and their unions.

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