The Guardian view on the education white paper: too important to rush.

The Guardian view on the education white paper: too important to rush.

Education is rightly regarded as a matter of national importance. But it has strong local significance too. More than a century has elapsed since councils were given the job of rationalising thousands of different voluntary schools, ensuring decent standards and access for every child. But there has always been a predictable tension between the two. So the first thing to say about the education secretary Nicky Morgan’s white paper – or is it really the business of the chancellor, who seems to have collared strategic responsibility for it – is that it destroys any attempt at equilibrium between national and local. It excludes not just local government but parents too from any say over the shape of their local schools. Academy status will no longer be negotiable. Parents will not even have a role as governors in the future, unless they can bring a useful skill beyond a concern for their children’s education.

Councils are surprised, furious, and anxious – about the legal complexities of transferring land to the new academies, the loss of their schools improvement programmes, the uncertainty surrounding the future of their residual obligations for school transport and special educational needs. They are also concerned that some of the secondary schools and many of the primaries that have yet to opt for academy status are unsuitable for it.

The Guardian view on the education white paper: too important to rush.

But most of all they are alarmed at the prospect of a huge structural upheaval as they struggle with the difficulties of recruiting and retaining teachers, too few school places in the right schools, and a chronic cash shortage; and they wonder where the new academy sponsors are likely to come from. All this when the evidence that the rapid expansion of academies over the past five years has delivered improving standards is, to say the least, inconclusive. A week ago, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw warned Ms Morgan that some multi-academy trusts were replicating the failings of the worst local authorities. The great majority of primaries, most of which are still maintained, are now judged by Ofsted to be successful.

Education secretaries have a point when they complain about the uneven quality of local leadership, although successive Whitehall administrations have played their part in undermining it. But the big point is this: education – like health – is a vital public service that needs continuity and a degree of consensus to prosper. Since the 19th century, the most successful educational change has had cross-party support that has allowed a consistent strategy to be pursued. Many of the proposals in the white paper are sensible. No one would quibble with its ambition for educational excellence. Ms Morgan is supposed to be a soothing presence after the Maoisms of her predecessor Michael Gove. She should learn from the disaster of the last attempt to impose radical change from the centre – Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms. Slow down, Ms Morgan, and build to last.

One Response to The Guardian view on the education white paper: too important to rush.

  1. zeze says:

    I am truly glad to read this website posts which carries tons of valuable facts, thanks for providing these kinds of statistics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *