education focus red pepper
Rotten to the core
A commitment to education for all has long been central to all shades of left thinking. But the government’s plans for schools mark a decisive break with past egalitarian principles. Have the privateers seized control of the education ship? In this special Red Pepper Education Focus, we look closely at what is happening – and what can be done about it.
The government is engaged in a profound transformation of the schools system through its Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme,its support for academy schools and,most strikingly,its new education white paper.It is the most
profound shift in education policy since the introduction of comprehensive schools some 40 years ago.The implications are immense – and the opposition is widespread. The government’s plans involve a dramatic erosion of the comprehensive
ideal and local democratic control over education (see Melissa Benn,page ii), along with the levers for improvement. This will come about through the introduction of the market into all aspects of education and the handover of a major role in school management and education policy to private business (see Dexter Whitfield,page iv). At least £40-45 billion investment is promised over the next 10-15 years under BSF,but the conditions on which this money is being provided have aroused deep misgivings.The opposition of 60 per cent of head teachers to the white paper (and a large proportion of Labour MPs – see Angela Eagle,page vi) is just one indication of the extent of that concern. Among the consequences of the government’s plans will be: Increased competition between schools,
february 2006 red pepper