The loss of choice and integrity


Morgan and GibbAccording to Nick Gibb, speaking this morning on Radio 4, because the number of Schools converting to academies is growing, it will soon be impossible for the state to sustain a mixed economy and so it will be necessary for the Conservative Government, formed from a Party which claims to stand for freedom and choice, to force all schools to become academies. This is despite the fact that a number of academy chains have indicated that they do not believe that small primary schools can be integrated within their business model. Yesterday I visited a primary school in a well known Sussex village. As I waited to be seen by the person I had come to visit I looked at the board on which the photos of members of staff were attached. In the final couple of rows of photos were the images of the governors, many of them local people including a couple of Priests, a Doctor and a business man. These local people are helping the head teacher to steer the School through a complex set of changes that have impacted on education over the last few years. If the changes that Nick Gibb is proposing along with his boss Nicky Morgan are implemented, these individuals will no longer be welcome on the School premises apart from as visitors or parents. This village is inhabited by a number of extremely wealthy residents, and the small pockets of rural deprivation are hidden from all published statistics and would be overlooked by people like Morgan and Gibb (although his constituency is not far away). This means that the level of funding available to the school creates great pressure on the school management to deliver the sort of resources that are taken for granted in similar schools 10 miles down the road in a large urban centre. This makes the need for local governance vital as only local people are able to help persuade the many wealthy residents to support the school. If we are to have a one size fits all system, which deprives schools of local governors as well as the cross subsidies possible from effective local authorities who understand the differences between urban and rural poverty, then it is clear to me that some children will suffer as a consequence. However we know that some children suffer under the existing system so perhaps we should be sanguine about that. However will this really be a one size fits all system? If it is acceptable to force all state schools to become academies, why not public schools too? If Nick Gibb and Nicky Morgan were to propose that all state funding of schools was contingent on them complying with the latest thinking on academy status, I would love to see the speed of that U turn. Talk about a squeal of tyres!

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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