Cheering for spin

28th September 2007 at 01:00
It was a real eye-opener to see the delegates from the teacher organisations chortling and applauding Gordon Brown's speech and doing much the same as Ed Balls failed to put flesh on the bones of his master's new financial skeleton for the education service. As someone who went to a top public school in Nottingham, Mr Balls knows about one-to-one tuition. As a former Treasury minister, he is acutely aware of the cost of private education. Fees at Nottingham High School for Boys are pound;3,171 a term.

My calculations reveal that the alleged pound;144 million to be allocated to state schools over the next 10 years is small beer indeed. Details of this "new" money are sketchy. I can only read between the lines of Mr Balls' gushing praise for classroom assistants and volunteers. Without them, schools would grind to a halt. Will headteachers be charged with recruiting yet another battalion for the "mums' army"?

One-to-one tuition, if it is to have a serious impact, must be given by trained practitioners like those at Nottingham High.

Listening to Mr Balls' speech about the new finances, I came to the conclusion he was applying his post-neoclassical endogenous growth theory producing money from hot air. Was any of the new spin challenged by teachers' representatives at the fringe? No.

So, keeping the classroom foot-soldiers in the dark, will union leaders recommend the new manna from Gordon to their executive committees? Only time will tell.

Tony Callaghan

Headteacher and former NASUWT executive

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