Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Morgan`s ambition behind this nonsense

Lucy Powell is absolutely right to criticise the Secretary of Education for wanting to replace the head of Ofsted with "someone with a track record of taking on the unions" (Morning Star,15/02/16). As she says, Ofsted is meant to "help schools improve, not to pick fights". This is not to say that Michael Wilshaw has done enough to praise teachers for their excellent work and commitment, or to acknowledge the resulting improvements in education in the state sector, but to suggest that "a union-busting US replacement" is needed to replace him is absurd.
     Has there ever been one instance of teacher unions taking action against government initiatives which would raise school standards in the UK? There have been protests against large class sizes, against pay freezes which lower real wages, and against unnecessary additions to workloads already approaching sixty hours a week, but the aim is always to protect a profession dedicated to raising standards. Tory policy on pay and workload has resulted in massive recruitment problems, with many schools using agencies to find recruits abroad, and many children being taught by unqualified staff, and/or teachers with only an A-level in the subject. A cynic might even suggest government policy is to lower standards, especially in some deprived areas, to strengthen future arguments about the need for more privatisation.
      Certainly, Morgan`s desire to "pick a new fight" with unions has everything to do with raising her stature in the Tory party, and with her personal ambition regarding leadership, and nothing whatsoever to do with raising educational standards. Being "tough" on unions is a default position for anyone with leadership aspirations in this right-wing government. Whilst Hunt deliberately sets out to create the impression of chaos in the health service, Morgan clearly aims to replicate this in state education.


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