Socialist Worker

Education White Paper

by Andrew Stone
Issue No. 1987

Tony Blair's education White Paper strikes at the heart of comprehensive education. The compromise being brokered by John Prescott between the government and Labour rebels would leave the bulk of the attack in place.

The White Paper proposes setting up “independent state schools”. This phrase was first coined 17 years ago by Stuart Sexton.

Sexton was the special adviser to Tory education secretaries Sir Keith Joseph and Mark Carlisle. He now provides “occasional advice” to Tory leader David Cameron.

New Labour also seems to believe that we have too many teachers. This is the only conclusion you can draw from New Labour’s decimation (literally, one in ten cuts) of teacher training places.

In the next two years places will be cut for all but two subjects. In my own subject, history, 29 percent fewer teachers will be trained. If there are more people wanting to become teachers, why am I and the trainees who come after me expected to work an extra five years for a pension?

And why isn’t the surplus being used to cut class sizes? That would be the kind of “choice” parents and teachers could all welcome.

Support is growing for the march and rally for a comprehensive future. The protest has been called by Ealing National Union of Teachers, and backed by a number of other NUT branches and some Unison union branches. It assembles at 5.30pm, Thursday 2 March, Ambrodesen Avenue, beside Westminster cathedral, central London for a march to Central Methodist Hall.

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Sat 11 Feb 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1987
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