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Guess what Stephen Twigg is up to on Academy Schools

The GMB has drawn our attention to what Stephen Twigg is up to on Education policy. And you won’t like it.  Remember Liam Byrne? Now that he’s got no job to go to in Birmingham, we’re stuck with him “running” the policy review until the next reshuffle. Buried on Liam’s Fresh Ideas website is an education policy consultation document – Devolving Power in Education — School Freedom and Accountability. The key thrust that we and the GMB object to is this:

Labour has no desire to turn back the clock and return powers from schools to Local Authorities. Nor do we want to see a reduction in the autonomies we gave schools through academies, trust schools and federations. In fact, although school autonomy is not the focus of this consultation, I want to see more schools get the freedoms that allow them to serve their pupils and communities most effectively.”

The document goes on to talk about creating a “middle tier”. A provider of shared services sitting between schools and central government. It could be elected or it could be appointed by central government.

Kath Robinson, Vice-Chair of the GMB Schools National Committee, said:

Committee members have expressed serious concerns about the Tory policies being advocated by Mr Twigg. The future of academies and free schools should not be out-of-bounds areas in any Labour Party education policy review.

By breaking-up the local-authority family of schools Michael Gove is making it more and more difficult to deliver integrated and accountable services to children. Costs to taxpayers are also likely to rise as economies of scale are lost and as heads push up their own salaries. There are little or no guarantees of better educational outcomes. Gove is also using public money to fund the start-up costs of the private companies which lie behind these academies.

Labour needs to offer a real, democratic alternative to these reckless Tory policies. Parents and staff in local-authority maintained schools continue to hope for Labour support in any local campaign against any school becoming academies especially in cases of forced conversion as in Haringey.

Quite so. Give us a vote on this at Labour party conference, and we’ll show you what Labour has a desire to do, Stephen. In the meantime, get your responses in to Stephen’s office by 10 July and keep them clean!  And checkout the Antiacademies Alliance.

4 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    “Labour has no desire to turn back the clock and return powers from schools to Local Authorities.”

    He can speak for himself. I want to do precisely that and I imagine many comrades think similarly.

  2. Solomon Hughes says:

    Thanks for posting this Jon , it’s really a masterpiece in wriggling and writhing, with Twigg saying “In meetings with those working in education, concerns are often raised with me about this democratic deficit, the increasing fragmentation of our school system and the absence of mechanisms to spot warnings of falling standards and performance. ” – which is a perfect argument for LEA’s, except for Twigg who insists on “no return to town halls running schools“. Fresh Ideas=Stale Blairism , I guess

  3. P SPENCE says:

    Let’s remember also that the Tory’s aim to commodify education, to break wage bargaining, and create profitable opportunities for private business, otherwise struggling to find profitable investments elsewhere. Twigg, I imagine is largely comfortable with this and offers merely technical solutions to improve and rationalise the system where there are obvious economies of scale, ie all those central support services that LEAs competently provided until recently.

  4. David Pavett says:

    Stephen Twigg is fully behind the fragmentation of our school system into Academies, Free Schools and ever more faith schools. He has no explicit vision of what a future education system should look like. He makes no clear policy statements. He contributes nothing worthwhile to discussion. What he does do is to chip away at any idea of a democratic framework for socially provided education.

    Whatever vision he has for the future of education he is keeping to himself. I wrote several times to his office to ask for everything I could get on Labour thinking about education: discussion documents, principles, policies, strategies, anything and everything. All I could get from him was a couple of sound bites and a speech to the NASUWT conference. I asked “Is that it?” and his secretary assured me that it was. This is a disgraceful situation for a major national political party.

    Interestingly, he did not choose to send me his speeches on the Progress website for which he is much more voluble than anything he does for the Labour Party – have a look.

    Nothing good can come from Labour on education while Stephen Twigg is Shadow Education Secretary. Any sign that Labour wants pay serious attention to education problems will have to start with his removal.

    Blair started the process of decoupling education from Local Authorities. Gove has put that process into top gear. Labour has given into this process to such an extent that when people like Twigg refer to local democracy for schools they no longer have local authorities in mind: they mean school management, teachers and parents. Labour has forgotten that school are the concern of society as a whole and not just the people immediately connected with them.

    Get rid of Twigg. Open a discussion on the future shape of education and its democratic control. Labour must change direction.

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