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March 20, 2016 1:52 PM
By Cllr John Marriott - Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham

John MarriottSo the government has finally decided to nationalise education. At least we now know where we stand. So, if an academy fails under the new system, the buck goes straight to the Secretary of State and not, as now, to the Local Education Authority (which, I assume will simply disappear).

When are we going to stop messing about with education? We are dealing with human beings, not building motor cars, for goodness sake. I note that the current secretary, like most of her cabinet colleagues, was educated privately. In the independent sector, business acumen and PR are part of the DNA of its member schools. "Sell yourself or go under"- and a few actually do!
Some of you may be aware of the goings on at an academy chain in Lincoln where the former Executive Head and his Director of Finance recently went on trial and, to many local people's amazement, were acquitted. Only this week it was announced that another secondary academy, the one I taught at for 23 years, is having to face redundancies because of some of it's grants being cut. Now it is planned also to remove parent representatives from governing bodies, what chance will the local community have to influence their schools?
Our state schools should be places where teaching takes place, unburdened by the need to make money or to attract sponsors. The time was when Heads and other senior staff were appointed on educational criteria and not for a facility in public relations.
If all schools, especially primary schools, are forced to become academies, many will be forced, because of a lack of business acumen, into chains, so, instead of LEAs, we will probably have privatised 'LEAs', controlled, if that is the right word, by one of the regional Schools Commissioners already in place to deal with the many academies already in existence. Yes, we have one for the East Midlands and Humber Region. Her name is Jennifer Bexon-Smith, at least, that's what Google tells me. Has anybody ever heard of her? Apparently she's been in post since September 2014. She'll certainly have her work cut out if all this takes place!
State schools should not have to sell themselves to the public. We should expect them to deliver an education which will equip our youngsters for life in this very turbulent 21st century. Happiness and fulfilment should be more than just a shedload of GCSE's or an ology degree. It should contain skills that enable the owner to play their part in building a vibrant economy. Schools stand a much better chance of achieving this noble aim if they are subject to LOCAL democratic accountability and not just competing for a better position in the exam league tables.
Cllr John Marriott