Fraser Nelson

A deal that would kill Gove’s agenda at birth

A deal that would kill Gove’s agenda at birth
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While both the Conservatives and LibDems support the idea of Swedish schools, a Lib-Con deal could kill the agenda stone dead. David Laws is proposing to allow local authorities to have the power to veto new schools – which would, in effect, mean no rollout. As we all know, this could strangle the Gove school agenda at birth.

Local authorities, whether Labour or Tory, will hate the idea of competition in the provision of education. The local authorities and teachers’ unions are incredibly powerful, and defeated Thatcher, Adonis and Blair. They have also nobbled the LibDems to the extent that, I understand, David Laws believes that he could not get rid of the local authority veto. His party, and the special interests it represents, would not let him. Local Authorities currently enjoy monopoly control over the provision of state education. The Swedish example worked because planning permission was given centrally, by a licensing board which rejected the (many) local authorities who complained.

“Please, we’re losing pupils in existing schools’ the local authorities would whinge. “Don’t let these popular schools open!” The Swedish system sides with the parents: if the school providers complain, then they should shape up. But Labour and the LibDems side with the local authorities. Both would poison the Gove reforms, given half the chance.  And they may well be given that chance. Stay tuned.