Socialist Worker

Inspecting to make a profit from schools

Issue No. 1873

MOST OF us wouldn't expect to get paid for running a vital service into the ground and then get paid again to 'rescue' it. Not so if you head the government's privatised education inspectorate, Ofsted. The quango became notorious for systematically rubbishing schools and teachers with 'inspections' that resembled the Spanish Inquisition.

Mike Tomlinson took over from chief inquisitor Chris Woodhead three years ago. Commentators said Tomlinson would offer a gentler approach. But he had already said he 'didn't give a monkey's toss about teachers'. The expensive, intimidating inspections continued. Tomlinson stood down in April 2002 and took up a post as chairman of the Learning Trust.

That is the unaccountable body that Labour put in charge of education in Hackney-the east London borough whose schools Ofsted had done so much to undermine. He has now waltzed into a new job in a Dubai-based corporation with its eyes on private schools in Britain.

Global Educational Management Systems runs private hospitals and schools. It wants to set up 50 new private schools in Britain. The government continues to give private schools tax-free status.

Part of its education policy is for underfunded state schools to depend on the goodwill of private schools for access to things like sports facilities. Private schools are not subject to Ofsted inspections.

Glimpse of present in past

CAN YOU identify this description of a Labour Party conference?

'At the conference the leader made a wonderful speech. He said nothing whatever, but he said it so eloquently that the delegates were deeply moved. Amongst the first to rise and wildly cheer his leader was the member of the TUC general council who had urged us all to fight the prime minister's betrayal of the working class. He was just one of those good-hearted, woolly-minded men who were guided by emotions on everything. To that type the Labour leader owed his position. He himself has said there always was exhilaration in going to a meeting knowing they were hostile and then to feel the change under the spell of his eloquence until surly critics had been converted into a cheering, worshipping mob.'

The writer, John Scanlon, was describing the Labour Party conference in 1930 when Ramsay MacDonald was the leader and unemployment was shooting up.

A year later MacDonald split the party and went into government with the Tories to push through attacks on workers.

Monkeys going ape

YOU OFTEN hear a lot of rubbish about animal behaviour showing human nature is selfish. A two-year experiment has shown that monkeys have a sense of class solidarity. Animal behaviourists at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, taught brown capuchin monkeys to receive tokens as a reward, and to barter them for food.

The monkeys were usually content to swap the tokens for cucumber. If the researchers gave one of the monkeys a grape, a desired food, the others would become jealous. Some of them refused to hand over their tokens. Others would exchange their token for the cucumber, but decline to eat it.

If the monkey which got the grape had received the coveted fruit for not doing anything, its colleagues often became incensed. If bosses pay peanuts, even the monkeys will know about it.

Figure it out - 63%

The average pay of a British woman in relation to the average pay of a British man. This is 30 years after equal pay legislation was introduced. The figures are taken from statistics produced by European Union member states.

Army shows no respect

THE BRITISH army is adding insult to injury in its treatment of the widow of soldier Mario Clarke. Mario was at the notorious Deepcut barracks. He was killed in mysterious circumstances near his family home in Hackney, east London.

The army erected a headstone on his grave without telling Daveen, his widow. Scandalously, Daveen is having to fight a deportation order to Jamaica.

Getting away from the BNP

THE DOBSON family from the East Midlands have had first-hand experience of the lies the British National Party (BNP) tell to whip up racism. The Dobsons recently moved to a Scottish island. The BNP claimed their decision was 'the ultimate in white flight'.

Sam Dobson, 37, is married to Perlin, 35, who is Afro-Caribbean. Sam says, 'I take objection to the BNP for suggesting that we would want to leave because of racially motivated reasons. My wife is black and so is my daughter. We miss the multicultural diversity that we left behind.'

Have you tried nuke pills?

THOUSANDS OF anti-radiation pills were distributed to schools in Portsmouth last week for the arrival of HMS Torbay. The 18 year old nuclear submarine has the potential to irradiate much of the city should there be an accident.

So 31 schools had to be given the tablets. A further 160,000 pills were stored in emergency distribution centres. Britain's ageing nuclear fleet is currently in the Gulf, where no anti-radiation pills have been handed out to the local population.

In this week - Snapshots from history: 1983

SOME 2.5 million people protested against nuclear missiles across the world as the arms race between the US and the Soviet Union hotted up.

One million marched in West Germany, 500,000 in Rome, 300,000 in Belgium, 150,000 in Spain and 100,000 in Australia. Around 400,000 people massed in Hyde Park in London. These were the largest ever anti-bomb demonstrations the world had yet seen.

Who says?

'As a result of doing imprisonment people are badly damaged and come out unable to cope.'

PHIL WHEATLEY, director general of the prison service gives the lie to claims that 'prison works'

'Public sector workers opposing reforms are knaves-self interestedly protecting jobs and income.'

JULIAN LE GRAND, Downing Street policy adviser

'In 1996 a Liberal/National Party coalition came to power under prime minister John Major.'

US WHITE HOUSE, briefing confusing Australian prime minister John Howard with Britain's former prime minister

'I acted because I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman.'

GEORGE BUSH, giving an interesting justification last week for war on Iraq

'Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy.'

CRAIG MURRAY, Britain's ambassador to the former Soviet republic which is an ally of Britain and the US. Murray was recalled to London last month

'What letter?'

US private Nick Deaconson, when congratulated on a letter which appeared in the US press praising the US occupation of Iraq. It was just one of dozens of such letters which soldiers denied signing

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 18 Oct 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1873
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