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The City of Light, 6 January 2012
We were tickled by a report on academies in yesterday’s edition (5 January 2012) of the Guardian newspaper, which has just reached these benighted parts.
Academies are the spearhead of the drive by the UK Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government to privatise education.
In the past most state schools in England operated under the aegis of elected local authorities.
The previous conservative “Labour” Government decided to encourage schools to opt out of the control of local authorities – presumably regarded as hotbeds of pedagogical leftism – and reclassify themselves as “independent academies”.
These academies were to have increased freedom over how they spent their budgets and, within limits, could teach what subjects they wanted. Moreover, in a truly revolutionary development, they could be run by literally anyone, regardless of whether they had any connection with education or not. One leading sponsor of academies is a carpet salesman.
The rightwing “Labour” Government was turfed out of office in a parliamentary election in May 2010. It was replaced by a Government Coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties, who knew a good thing when they saw it and massively speeded up the creation of academies. According to the Guardian, there are now 1,529 academies, compared with 200 in the last days of Labour.
The Guardian report carries a coruscating attack by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, on opponents of academies (who include the overwhelming majority of the teaching profession). “Every step of the way, they have sought to discredit our policies,” he said. “They are putting the ideology of central control ahead of the interests of children”.
The report adds that “academies, unlike other state schools, do not receive funds through their local authority but, instead, directly from central government”.
We should point out that one of the flagship policies of the Coalition Government is localism – known in other contexts as subsidiarity – the idea that decisions are best taken, if at all possible, at local level (presumably, for example, at the level of local authorities) rather than by the dead hand of central government.
You could not make it up.