Wednesday 1 July 2009

Back to the future with the White Paper

Ed Balls' White Paper promises to build a "21st century schools system". But our politicians' visions for the 21st century seem to hark back to 19th century schooling instead of post-war 20th century comprehensive education.

Take my own school in Catford where a consultation paper has just been issued proposing that we become an "Associate School" of Colfe's, the local independent school that charges fees of over £4,000 a term. It is being sold to parents with the promise that a handful of our students might be given bursaries to attend the Colfe's sixth form. Of course, in return for this help for our 'deserving poor', Colfe's can show the Charity Commissioners proof of their charitable works so that they continue to gain tax advantages while they undermine the state system.

Balls' White paper promises yet more Academies and Trusts and introduces the new 'licence' that teachers will have to renew to prove that they are up to the job. This will become just another weapon to hold over teachers' heads with the threat of non-renewal of licences being used to bully staff into even more unacceptable workload and acceptance of unreasonable instructions.

We have to stop this juggernaut of privatisation and workload. As Carole, the Bexley NUT President, rightly said in her speech at their summer 'do' that I attended tonight, there's no pleasure to be gained out of saying "we told you so". We know these plans will make education even more divided and drive even more dedicated staff out of the profession. We have to act to make sure it doesn't happen.


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