Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/429/5032
Stop Blair's divisive Education Bill
Quality education for all
...not just the few!
BLAIR'S GOVERNMENT has unveiled its new Education Bill - MPs will vote on it this month. Education Secretary Ruth Kelly claims this bill will give "schools the freedoms they need to raise standards".
Many people involved in education totally disagree.
Martin Powell-Davies is secretary of Lewisham National Union of Teachers branch. He told the socialist that he saw the bill as bringing about 'the fragmentation of our education system'.
"Our schools used to be able to cooperate in teaching children. Now New Labour wants to force schools to compete with each other.
"The Bill openly encourages trust schools - state-run independent schools that compete for the so-called 'best' pupils.
"The Bill gives big business and religious groups more power to take over and run Trust schools, which are very like New Labour's divisive academies that are already running.
"When all the noise and clamour of a supposed backbench rebellion dies down, what 'concessions' have Ruth Kelly and Tony Blair offered to make sure there is some control over these 'independent' schools?
"Kelly herself said recently: 'I remain committed to all the freedoms for foundation and trust schools that we set out in the White Paper - schools owning and controlling their own buildings, employing their own staff and setting their admissions arrangements'. In other words, they have made no real concessions at all."
An article in the guardian Education section (28 February) gives statistical evidence backing up what socialists always warn - that a child's social background, i.e. their class, is the crucial factor in how well they do in education.
Parents should not believe the propaganda that they will get more 'choice'. In reality it's usually the schools that have the choice. Most schools want to pick more middle-class pupils to ensure they get good results in the government's league tables. Children from working-class backgrounds often miss out.
Blair and Kelly's 'reforms' are attacking comprehensive education, working-class pupils' chances of a decent education and teachers' pay and conditions. New Labour is abandoning the educational principles it defended in the past and making education even more of a two-tier system
If we want to stop this and the rest of Blair and Brown's big business agenda, we cannot depend on Labour backbenchers developing an occasional taste for rebellion.
We have to get organised in the local communities - uniting parents, teachers and pupils to fight Labour's attacks on education. And we need to join the fight for a new workers' party and campaign to attract to it all those fighting for a decent education and well-provided public services.
Feature: Education under attack
In The Socialist 2 March 2006: