N.B. The author is Tim Hewish – my Parliamentary Researcher – who is somewhat riled by opposition to the Government’s education reforms — Steve Baker.
The largest powder keg in the Hundred Years’ War known as class warfare is surely Education. Toby Young, writer and now somehow alienator of the people of Acton, has thrown his own grenade into the debate by embarking on the creation a flagship Academy school in west London. The documentary charting the realisation of his free school was aired on BBC a few days ago and can still be watched on iplayer.
What I was most concerned about was the reactionary vitriol spewing from the Left and the National Union of Teachers. The NUT opposition to Academies was laid bare as an attempt not to help the children who are failing in comprehensive education, but a clear act of saving one’s own skin. Failures propping up failure. It made for desperate viewing.
Mr. Young said that the State had let children and parents down and we are not willing to stand by and put up with what we’ve got. He wanted to show that we, the local people, were going to do it better than the State. He spoke of tearing down the wall between the public and the private sector. I echo such sentiments.
However, opponents of Academies accuse them of being middle class havens for parents who want to avoid sending their children to poor performing schools, but can’t afford to go private. They have declared this as middle class warfare. But is it?
For Left wing doctrinaires to tell children, who don’t have a social understanding of class at the age of 10, that they must stay in a failed education system because any other school system is unpleasant to Marxist theory is an outrage. This smacks of cheap ideology set over the social fact that a large number of state schools are failing pupils under the current inflexible system.
For example, if a comprehensive school has children from every walk of life, but it is anchored to a rigid system that won’t teach a subject because to them it’s bourgeois, that makes the class warriors deniers of basic social demand from parents and pupils.
Whereas a free school would allow children and parents of all backgrounds the chance to learn and be taught what they desired. It’s the age old dualism of freedom not State control. Individual choice, not Statist uniformity. It took the Tories, the historical party of freedom, to grant parents what they wanted and to liberate them from the educational false class consciousness.
It is the anti-Academy foot soldiers who are creating a divide and turning man against their fellow man. Their opposition even resorted to threats and personal harassment. For example, here is one comment from a BBC apparatchik:
I don’t think there’s been one person yet on Toby Young’s BBC2 documentary about starting a school that I wouldn’t happily punch to death.
That is what the Left does. They alienate the bonds of human interaction and retard community freedom. In fact, so called middle class people want to help their fellow working class brother. If they set up better schools for everyone, then it is a win-win.
The alternative is that children from any background will not be liberated to grow into responsible adults if they are given an education system that puts failing schools on pseudo-GCSEs such as the Certificate in Personal Effectiveness, which teaches children to clean their teeth, give their friends a make-over or entertain a group of people with tea or coffee. Basic life skills should be taught at home and shouldn’t be subject to the certification-obsession New Labour has created. Why should the State reward someone for brushing their teeth or learning how to put on a condom?
As for the creation of free schools, to me it seems that to be denied the opportunity to even try is actually very sad. Affectively, it is telling children that they should be deprived of access to top-quality teaching because some myopic nomenklatura God-worships the edifice of the State. It is they who are drugged up on the opiate of masses. Academies provide a welcome tonic to this malady.