David Blackburn

The education battle opens

The education battle opens
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Michael Gove has announced that 32 schools will open as Academies at the start of the new term. More schools are set to open over the next academic year, but it is a disappointing figure. However, it could’ve been worse – I’ve heard rumours that as few as 10 schools would adopt Gove’s reforms. The figure of 32 is at the upper limit of recent estimates knocking around Westminster.

Disappointing it may be, but slow progress is unsurprising. These are radical steps and teachers are hesitant in the face of change. Blair’s original academy reforms were frustrated in part by teachers and governors eager to preserve the status quo. However, first Blair and now Gove are committed to an attritional struggle with the recalcitrant Educational Establishment.

One of the reasons that teachers are so cautious is that their union is extremely well organised in its opposition to anything that will empower teachers, parents and pupils at its expense. Janet Daley has joined the Spectator in questioning the Nation Union of Teachers and its strategy of obfuscation.

The NUT and Local Education Authorities are vested interests that must be broken. Michael Gove’s tactics have lacked finesse to date. His numerous gaffes in the coalition’s first hundred days have undermined his reputation if not his cause, which is the coalition’s best. It is time to re-group and win the argument with the positives of reform. His target is not teachers, the teaching profession, partisanship or the poor. As so often with this government, it is the monumental impediment of the state. As Tony Blair puts it, this is both the time and opportunity to reform for better public services.