Gove has carried out one of the most audaciously left wing moves in education for years. He and the department of education are nationalising a private school.The Kings School in North Tyneside will be a non-selective academy with no fees from next year. In true freedom fighter style, the daring raid was carried out in secret: Until the start of term the bourgeoisie (concerned parents) were totally unaware of the revolution unfolding in the 19th century courtyards and corridors. It seems Gove has not forgotten his roots as a young radical in the NUJ. Many parents are furious that their child will be joined by kids whose families could never dream of having enough spare cash to pay for a private education. Some will choose to make use of the private schools further south in Newcastle. They are free to choose how to spend their money.
I used to teach in a school in North Tyneside that served communities where the level of depravation is relatively high. Some students come from these often vilified families where ‘no-one has ever gone out to work’ The right wing press often forget that Granddad used to walk to work in the pit just down the road. My concern is that the funding of existing schools in less well-off areas will be used to prop up a private school that was struggling financially. I would have thought that a Tory Education Secretary would leave it to market forces to decide which businesses fail.
The whole episode highlights the difference in the way the funding which is associated with Academy status is used status is being used by the Tory Government. Under Labour the academy system drew criticism from many sides but it was not elitist – Many academies were schools in inner city areas where a lot of government interventions had been tried; a new start, with less intervention, but more investment, was needed. In contrast Gove is intent on giving private schools and private companies who open ‘free’ schools a thick slice of an already thin education budget.
Gove is no radical; he looks back when he should look forward. I will only be convinced that he is a true comrade when he converts Eton into ‘South Slough Academy’.
It is terrifying that we have an Education Secretary who is failing to challenge inequality where it exists in our education system, nor is he ignoring the problem. He is actively pursuing policies that make matters worse.