Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/193/8100
LABOUR'S NIGHTMARE EDUCATION PLANS
"BOG OFF" BLAIR
THE DAYS of "bog standard" comprehensives are over says Tony Blair. In practice he's announced the end of comprehensive education and the opening up of education to big business. New Labour are returning to selection and privatising schools.
When in opposition Education Secretary David Blunkett pledged not to expand academic selection, which discriminates against working-class schoolchildren. Now under New Labour there are more children taught in selective schools than under the Tories.
How do Blunkett and Blair expect to get half of school students to university with selective education, tuition fees and student loans? (see pages 2 & 12)
And how will teachers be attracted to work in "failing schools" unless their lousy pay and conditions are substantially improved?
"THE PROVISION of education is a market opportunity and should be treated as such" - European Round Table of Industrialists.
Big business are licking their lips at the profits to be made from New Labour's education handouts.
In the US, schooling is a $650 billion marketable commodity to be traded for a profit. It's a system where schoolchildren are viewed by marketing directors as 'consumers in training'.
Already teaching packs from big business have been circulated in British schools by corporations. British Nuclear Fuels explained safety problems in the nuclear industry by saying: "Accidents happen all the time. Can you think of some accidents that have happened in school, at home or locally?"
Companies, which include WHSmith, McDonald's, Shell, British Aerospace, ICI, Cadbury Schweppes, are all muscling in on education, keen to promote their products and brand name.
Education management is big business. In February 1999, King's Manor school in Guildford, Surrey, became the first to be run by a private company - 3Es Enterprises. Nord Anglia predicts that 200 state schools will be wholly managed by private companies in five years.
Clearly, these companies will be pressurised by major shareholders to select out pupils who do badly in order to raise their ratings, win more contracts and make bigger profits.
Many local education authorities are badly run and underfunded. Comprehensive education should be democratically run involving teachers, parents and students.
Instead of big business taking over education let's take over big business and use its resources to rebuild a fully-funded, comprehensive education system.
"BY ABANDONING comprehensive education schools will pick and choose the students they want in order to increase their standing in league tables, while thousands more will be condemned to second-class 'sink schools'."
Martin Powell-Davies, secretary, Lewisham National Union of Teachers
"WALTHAM FOREST council wants to sign a seven-year contract - a 'Public, Private, Public Partnership' - with a private company which will make a substantial profit for the successful bidder.
"Kevin McNeany, the chief executive of Nord Anglia Amey (NAA) one of the shortlisted companies, was prosecuted by an employment tribunal for instigating race discrimination. Yet Waltham Forest is a borough where 50% of schoolchildren are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
"What concerns many parents is that the proposed structure will lead to the fragmentation which proved the downfall of the privatised railway system. It does not bode well for our children's education."
Suzanne Muna, rep Parent Action Group
In The Socialist 16 February 2001: