Why is Labour so timid over education, especially free schools?

Cameron announces that, in addition to the 240 so-called free schools already operating in 2014-15, a re-elected Tory government will open a further 153.   Why is the Labour party so timid in responding to this?   The official riposte was: “Instead of focusing on the need for more primary school places, David Cameron’s government has spent £241m on free schools in areas that already have enough school places.   The result is a 200% increase in the number of infants taught in classes of more than 30”.   The impression given is that what is wrong with free schools is merely that they’re being set up in the wrong places: if they were set up in places where there’s a shortage of primary school places, that would be fine.   Except it wouldn’t be fine at all.    Why doesn’t Labour make the real charge against free schools?

Just about everything is wrong with free schools.   As is already happening big time with the NHS, they represent the worst form of privatisation since they are funded by the State, yet the State (i.e. taxpayers) exercises no public control over either their policies or performance.   They are often set up by some highly eccentric characters who have little knowledge or interest in education, but have their own pet obsession played out in the school curriculum, even perhaps anticipating that if the Tories win again they will make a tidy profit if for-profit schools are introduced.   Already a free school gets more funding and support from the government than a State school does.   Moreover, staff at free schools are not even obliged to have any  teaching qualifications.   And the local population have no power to call free schools to account whatever their policies or antics.

Why doesn’t Labour say all this as the reason why it will end this disastrous Govean policy which is ultimately aimed at the total privatisation of the UK education system?   Labour is accepting the case for integrating health and social care under local authority control in the Manchester city region proposal, so why doesn’t it champion returning education to local authority control where the case is much stronger because it would ensure balanced and supported development for all schools in the area, not privileged positioning for one renegade?   Why does Labour appear to be running scared of local authorities and opting instead for quangos at regional or sub-regional levels?   And why is Labour merely threatening to remove State subsidies from public schools if the fail to ‘co-operate’ rather than setting out a programme to integrate them in the public sector as happens in all the countries most successful in education like Finland and Korea?

7 thoughts on “Why is Labour so timid over education, especially free schools?

  1. The system of privatising schools, which has already been established in Chile, is massively discredited. In this BBC report, it states that the system has become grossly unfair, as the wealthy can afford the best schools, and the poor have to put up with substandard ones that are underfunded.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29773137
    The academies in this country are receiving money for which they do not have to account – their spending is opaque – for all we know some of it could be in a tax haven. We just do not know.
    In the County where I live, the accounts report showed the lost of a 120m in school building assets – this represented the handing over of school title deeds to private trusts. The LEA has received not one penny for them. Gove has forced local councils to give them away.
    School fields and land are sold off for private profit.
    I fear that private schools are just another form of rent seeking, just as the railways are.
    These privatisation policies are socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.
    Even a decent Tory should be disgusted by them. Labour should be labelling it illegal and unmandated and promise to reverse all of it.
    They would I believe, need to oppose TTIP in its entirety for this however – because any reversed privatisations would lead to the government being sued – ISDS may have been suspended from talks but it certainly has not been dropped.

  2. I can only speculate; but such speculation would be based on the way that the same predatory commercial business interests have infiltrated the NHS and other public services including our education system.

    The commercial education mafia, (since education is now just another business,) are a powerful, influential, well connected and well funded commercial lobby group with extremely strong links to the Labor party, (the number of Blair MPs who were formerly teachers for example,) now being operated as yet another financial racket, with financial profit, (not education,) first and foremost or as even their only raison d’etre.

    I may in fact be repressive of the last generation in the UK, to get a decent free state education.

    Under the system that I was educated under, no child, (or adult,) who wanted to learn was ever turned away, (certainly not in principle,) and I have benefited repeatedly from that ethos during my life.

    But after Thatcher and Blair, not only is education now open only to those people, (with parents of certain socio-economic background,) who can afford it or who are prepared to get massively into debt to obtain it, the current fad for public schools means another generation, (exemplified by Cameron, Balls and co,) have emerged who firmly believe on basis of nothing more convincing than the trivial fact of them not having not participated in the state education system, that they are nonetheless, better educated or simply better, than the rest of us, which is patent nonsense.

    The probable reason why the Labor party is so silent on this topic as with NHS is that too many of them expect to profit either personally, directly or their associates do, from this arrangement and are indifferent to the impact on rest of us.

  3. “I may in fact be repressive…………..”

    Should read.

    I may in fact be representative………………………

  4. Free schools one wonders are you giving schools away for free isnt it daft we had a perfect system were we all went to schools theey wernt free were they just another tory ploy to dumb the peasants down but free schools there isnt but radical were they teach other than whot other schools teach isnt it time ed stood up are you real labour or just another tb in disguise jeff3

  5. I actually think that some of different ideas and proposals for Free Schools seem quite interesting and am in fact encouraged by the open hostility and cries of outrage of some elements of the traditional education establishment.

    Unfortunately the real abuses that have already occurred, (which include institutional misogyny, fraud and misappropriation of public funds and teaching only selected parts of the core curriculum,) under this umbrella and particularly regarding religious schools are far from encouraging in practice.

    As with the massive failures of governance and management; at Mid staffs, Rotherham and in Birmingham and in Rochdale these are issues that Labor do not want the public to be reminded about or to be scrutinized to closely?

  6. Meanwhile despite the comprehensively damning American Senate report into the massively criminal activities of HSBC; whilst Green was their CEO, (and their admission of guilt,) a record fine and the stringent Deferred Prosecution Agreement still in force against then, once again this wretched man’s complete immunity from not merely from criminal prosecution, but even from any public criticism seem extraordinary.

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/09/hsbc-tory-mps-accused-of-blocking-watchdogs-bid-to-question-green

    Although any such an interrogation would be largely redundant since the clear facts of his behavior; criminal or criminally negligent, (if you really believe that head of major bank could really be that stupid of naive,) and completely complicit with know criminal activity, have already been firmly established and formed the basis of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement against HSBC in the states.

    Once again for anyone seriously interested in this, the facts of the matter are these:

    http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/legacy/2012/12/11/dpa-attachment-a.pdf

  7. But anyone interested in this should also read this:

    Tauheedul Free Schools Trust – Department for Education: it’s PDF document so it won’t cut and paste, which explains the structure, governance and aims of this charity and an associated company, (limited by guarantee,) which is essentially to; first and foremost, promote Islam.

    Having read most of the above document myself, I find myself somewhat uncomfortable/uneasy about some of it and also with the endorsement from Jack Straw, (particularly in the context of his other recently publicized commercial entanglements.)

    This seems to me to be a well organized and well funded attempt to establish a second tier, (as it were,) of purely Muslim education alongside and even in competition to the traditional liberal UK curriculum, which frankly many Muslims loath.

    Which brings me back full circle to my first comment above:

    “The probable reason why the Labor party is so silent on this topic as with NHS is that too many of them expect to profit either personally, directly or their associates do, from this arrangement and are indifferent to the impact on rest of us.”

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