Saturday, 12 October 2013

Lord Adonis - a gem among GEMS

"Striking teachers are leaving children to 'get into drugs'." Andrew Adonis.

No, this isn't parody, according to the TES this is a real quote from Lord Adonis, Labour Peer and shadow cabinet member. (

Adonis' comments, made at an event hosted by the Varkey Gems Foundation, have rightly angered teachers preparing for strike action next week . He is quoted as having said: You will not get society’s esteem for a profession which does not turn up at nine o’clock on a Monday morning - leaving children at home, in front of the sofa, roaming the streets, getting into drugs, all of those other things that happen – simply in pursuit of what is a course that should be negotiated.”  

For a start, if Adonis thinks that teachers "turn up at 9 am", then he hasn't much idea about the long hours that teachers are working! 

Secondly, if he thinks that Gove is prepared to offer serious 'negotiation' without trade unions first threatening serious action, then he understands little about political reality either.

Gove has written to the NASUWT and NUT confirming that he is only prepared to talk about implementation of his attacks, saying that the "Government's policy direction on pay and pensions is fixed". That's why teachers know that strike action will be needed to persuade him to change course.

The insults about 'drug-taking' and keeping children 'off the streets' are laughable but  perhaps also reveal the real thinking of Gove and others like Adonis, a Minister who bears a lot of responsibility for the development of academies under the previous Labour Government. It's as if they would like to be able to force teachers to work even longer hours and with shorter holidays so that schools can be used primarily as a child-minding service rather than providing fulfilling education.

Teachers want schools to provide  high-quality comprehensive education that meets the needs of all our students*. We understand that our strike action to defend pay, pensions and conditions is part of that wider struggle to defend education.

Lord Adonis, on the other hand, is perhaps driven by a different commitment - a commitment to people like the Varkey Gems Foundation behind the event where he was speaking.

GEMS Education is an international education business, describing themselves as "the largest privately - held K – 12 operator in the world today". Is GEMS guided by what's best for education? I suspect they are guided by a different aim - profit. 

Its "Invest with GEMS" publicity spells it out blatantly:
  • "In 2010, the world’s top ten global education companies generated over USD $26bn in revenue"
  • "Education, like the health sector, is a ‘counter-cyclical’ sector, performing well even in recession"
  • "In GEMS Education’s experience, education projects should generate an IRR of 15% to 30%"

Read on to their list of advisers and policy experts - and who should be there? Well, none other than Lord Andrew Adonis himself!

So, no wonder Adonis wants to insult teacher trade unionists. That's because it is our union strength that stands between the education profiteers and their profits. They want to drive down pay and pensions and break trade union organisation in order to to do so.

The best answer to these insults is for teachers to strike in their tens of thousands on Thursday across London, the South and the North-East.

* and here's another article revealing the real ideology behing these attacks, Gove's adviser Dominic Cummings combining support for wholesale privatisation with reactionary ideas on genetics:

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