Socialist Worker

New Labour’s attack on comprehensive schooling

Issue No. 1991

Anger among teachers, parents and trade unionists is growing over the education bill, set to be debated in parliament on Wednesday of next week.

The bill attacks the whole basis of state education, turning state schools into semi?independent trusts – a point made by many speakers at a rally in London last week.

Jane Coles, a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, London, said, “There is an obsession with private education. Tony Blair, David Cameron and education secretary Ruth Kelly were all privately educated.

“This attack on education is part of a wider attack on public services. It is already clear that academies don’t work.

“Half of the academies are in the bottom 100 schools, rated by GCSE results, and exclusion rates in these schools are much higher.

“A government report on charter schools in the US, forerunners of the academies here, show what we are facing. It showed that these schools paid their staff lower wages and employed them on worse conditions. They were also shown to increase segregation.”

Respect MP George Galloway told the rally, “We are told that the government’s plans are to modernise education. But it seems to me that we are moving back to Victorian philanthropy.

“Where comprehensive schools have failed, it is because of constant attacks and cuts in funding. What we are fighting for, what we have to defend, is state education for all.”

Labour MP John McDonnell said, “It is absolutely crucial not to be diverted by arguments over concessions. It is not the details we need to fight over, but the direction of New Labour.

“Under New Labour private schools have been defended. We have seen the continuation of this hierarchy of schools where selection is structured into the class system.”

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Sat 11 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1991
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