What a difference 24 hours can make for an education system.
A combination of George Osborne’s Budget 2016 yesterday and the Nicky Morgan’s White Paper today has left us running around attempting to work out quite what it all means for schools, for heads and for teachers.
Those who accuse the Coalition/Conservative government of an addiction to Permanent Revolution (hat-tip Karl Marx) are not far off the mark.
With universal academisation, MAT league tables, a rethink of Initial Teacher Training and CPD, a transformation on Ofsted’s inspection criteria and a rethink of Alternative Provision, opponents arguing that Department for Education policy amounts to the needless and endless reinvention of our schools system will feel they have new ammunition.
Others, more sympathetic to ministers, will claim that much of this simply makes sense of Michael Gove’s legacy, adding a little accountability and structural scaffolding to a raft of policies that at times had felt, well, scattergun.
The main over-arching themes are this:
- What was left of local authority involvement in running schools is for the bin
- Schools don’t have any choice about academy status any more
- Multi-academy trusts are the future in an entirely academised world
- The new funding formula will be going ahead
- Regional Schools Commissioners are as important to accountability as Ofsted
- Ministers are as interested in the quality of teachers as the number of teachers
- The seemingly endless political chatter about “character education” isn’t going to stop any time soon
Also, while money might be tight, there is still some loose change sloshing around, especially if it’s to ensure that the success of key government reforms – think free schools and the funding formula. But other than that, no.
What we are faced with is an entirely new education landscape. Whether it’s a rush-job pushed through to make sense of a Govean dystopia, or a sensible pragmatic approach designed to allow a school-led self-improving education system to emerge is for others to decide.
But what we can say with some clarity is that things are never going to be the same again.
And that this is no longer Michael Gove’s education system. It’s Nicky Morgan’s. That’s where the buck now stops.