Birmingham’s prized education service trashed

In Birmingham Gove has had his way in trashing Birmingham’s once proud Education Service with minimal opposition from the Council. Even the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services in the Con Dem Coalition, Les Lawrence, didn’t support academies and free schools they have gone ahead. Quite a few Labour Councillors think academies are a good idea and some have supported the Nishkam Free Schools. Quite a muddle.
It’s good that the City Council wants to retain some influence on education, but why has it let so much control continue to ebb away. The idea of a co-operative enterprise to maintain cohesion is a good one but it is over a year ago since it was first mooted and although it is supposed to be in place by September there is little sign of an effective vehicle to emerge so far. The Labour Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Brigid Jones, may have good intentionbut she needs a strong officer corps for support. It is not Councillors who are paid to run the City Council, and I know as a former Cabinet Member how important competent and loyal officers are. Brigid’s officers are out of control. I have told her this from my experience as a former governor of Foundry School. When it was forced to become an Academy the Birmingham officers, who should have been supporting the school, came in holding the hand of Gove’s agent, Rob Briscoe, to polish us off. I have heard the same story over and over. Too many Birmingham schools are being handed over to chains of organisations with CEOs taking telephone number salaries. They are paid with our taxes! This is where the money supposed to be for our education service has gone. Even if you like academies you should at least have a say in who your sponsor is. That was denied governors and parents in at least one case with once again Birmingham education officers standing by without offering advice or support. What are they paid for?
I have written to Albert Bore about this, but he has other problems, like raking over the ashes to find if there is anything left to run a Council at all. But he has never been in opposition to private take over of Council Service, he only has a preference for KPMG over Capita.
Once upon a time astute people brought in an educationist rather than a local government careerist to run education. Under Sir Tim Brighouse it thrived. I attended two occasions when HM inspectors looked at the service provided. On both occasions it was accorded high praise, even when Brighouse’s arch enemy Chris Woodhouse led the inspection. How all that can disappear in the blink of en eye is unimaginable. Labour could have seen this coming preparing while still in opposition to do what a number of authorities like Bradford, Liverpool and Cornwall have achieved. What is being done now is too little, too late. Brigid is on her own as she is undermined by her officers. They should be sacked now. Bore is too busy to give it his full attention and he embraces privatisation. Labour Councillors are all over the place. Step forward parents, governors, teachers and other stake holders to regain a democratic system led by the Council. Birmingham Campaign for State Education and the Anti-Academy Alliance will help.
The Socialist Labour Party is totally opposed to academies, free schools and any privatisation of public services.

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