Heroes and villains of the GM decade;Briefing;Goodbye to GM

23rd April 1999 at 01:00
In the past 10 years, the GM movement and its opponents had its villains and heroes. The TES has tracked down some key players: Sir Robert Balchin (above) set the ball rolling and became the "godfather of GM". Inspired by EG West's 1970 work "Education and the State" he wrote "Give schools their own chequebooks" and gave the idea to the then education secretary Kenneth Baker. He was appointed chairman of a number of GM bodies, but many in the movement found his approach too political.

He was knighted for his GM work. He remains chairman of the Grant-Maintained Schools Centre and director of the linked Centre for Education Management. He also runs a private school, and campaigns to preserve grammar schools.

Andrew Turner a former comprehensive-school teacher in Oxfordshire, he became an adviser on education policy to the Conservative government. Mr Turner was appointed to run the Grant-Maintained Schools Trust in 1988 and had a central role in spreading the word via its political wing, Choice in Education.

"In the first six months, I did 100 meetings," he said. "It was only after 1993 that we had sufficient resources to set up regional offices."

The GM Trust went through several identity changes in the following years, ending up as the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation, before Labour did away with its grant. Mr Turner made his staff redundant and the foundation was wound up.

Mr Turner is now deputy director of education and training at the Institute of Economic Affairs. He was involved in the Education Partnership's unsuccessful bid to take over the failing Kings' Manor comprehensive in Surrey.

Martin Rogers (above) As co-ordinator of Local Schools Information, founded 10 years ago, Martin Rogers was the official voice of the anti-opt-out movement.

He was responsible for putting the other side of the story to schools wanting to free themselves from local authority control.

In October 1997 the LSI, which was funded by local authorities, became The Education Network and its role changed substantially - into a policy information and advisory service. Three-quarters of the country's LEAs are subscribers. Helen Webster Fighting alongside LSI was a parents' group: Parents Opposed to Opting Out. Helen Webster founded POO in 1993 after Netherhall, the Cambridgeshire school where her son was a pupil, balloted parents over opting out.

POO, which had 300 members was financed by the sale of its governor pack and a pound;10,000 donation. It dissolved in June last year, having deliberately stayed alive long enough to read and comment on the new Labour Government's education White Paper.

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