Combat fatigue ends my GM fight

22nd September 1995 at 01:00
Well, it's that time of year again! No, I don't mean the start of term, the end of freedom as teachers know it during the long summer holidays; I mean the time when our school is "duty-bound" to reconsider grant-maintained status.

Aha! I know all about this. I was the chair of our school's staff association when GM was considered for the first time, in 1990. Then, the teachers in our school were confused, talks were held, the weapons of local authority support and political backing for local authority schools were used, and GM status was rejected.

I was also around when it was considered the second time. On this occasion, GM status supporters were quicker off the blocks; nevertheless parents voted against GM status. The reasons were, I believe, substantially the same as the first time.

Here we go again! Now, however, there are some rather significant changes in the position of the goal posts in this bizarre educational football match. Now, for example, our local authority boundary is changing; who knows what the new authority will be like? Now, too, league tables show that we are not absolutely at the top, standards could rise under GM status. Above all, now the political backing of the Labour party at national level has somehow switched from opposition to GM status in 1990 to acceptance of GM status in 1995. Astonishingly, when I fought against GM status some years ago, I was under the (obviously mistaken) apprehension that the Labour party was also against it; I now learn, particularly from Frances Rafferty's recent article in The TES, that Labour now feels it necessary to address the "reality" of GM schools. Further, David Blunkett explains to us (silly me for not understanding in 1990) that Labour has always embraced a "plural approach", including GM schools.

So; now that GM status is before us once again, will I be putting all my energies into combating it? Correct, go to the top of the class, I won't!

My real questions, as I slowly realise that I have been experiencing political pragmatism (or do I mean opportunism?) is this: have I been politically naive over the past six years, or am I gradually metamorphosing into a member of new Labour?

ROBIN TAIT

3 Woodlands Close Bridlington North Humberside

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