WE WILL COME TO REGRET NOT HAVING DEFENDED OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM
“Sir, In the light of last week’s damning assessment by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, of the efficacy of seven separate chains of academy schools, it is all the more depressing and alarming that the government’s announcement of a programme of enforced “academisation” marks the start of the final phase of the destruction of our national education service.
The education bill’s aim is to speed up the process by which more than 20,000 schools are removed from local democratic oversight and, together with their physical assets, handed over to unaccountable private academy chains, with little or no parental involvement, no access to freedom of information requests, and a less rigorous inspection framework. All this despite the fact that the empirical evidence to date provides no support for the idea that academy trusts are any better at improving schools than local authorities (and may indeed be much worse); the growing evidence that Ofsted believes some academy chains are not competent or trustworthy providers, and despite the fact that our primary schools — where most of the significant educational improvement that Ofsted and the Department for Education rightly celebrate happens — are still largely maintained and supported by local authorities!
Almost no one seems to be aware that of the 50 most developed countries in the world only one other European country (Finland) and four in Southeast Asia outperform this country in overall educational attainment, and none of them have privatised their schools in the way this legislation will promote. On the contrary, they are all fiercely protective of a national system of education.
We have down the decades, quite rightly and passionately, defended our National Health Service. I believe the country will quickly come to regret that it did not as robustly defend and protect one of the most successful national education systems in the world.”
Chris Dunne, retired headteacher and member of the Campaign for State Education