'Tory Blair' branded ignorant

28th April 2000 at 01:00
TONY Blair was this week branded a bourgeois prime minister with absolutely no understanding of how ordinary schools work. He was accused of systematically dismantling the comprehensive education system through the ruthless pursuit of Tory innovations such as beacon and specialist schools.

Martin Johnson, NASUWT president, singled out the Prime Minister for attack in his opening address to the union's annual conference in Llandudno, north Wales, re-opening old wounds over Mr Blair's decision to send his two sons to the then grantmaintained London Oratory.

He claimed schools were now graded by social class and wealth with ministers presiding over a hierarchical system where some received more money than others. "We are back to selection, a more subtle form of selection." P> This might be selection by the middle-class housing market, by parents or of children by schools but it was certainly nothing to do with with establishing an intake which reflects the whole community served by the school, he said. "This might be the policy of a Tory prime minister: it is certainly that of a bourgeois prime minister."

Mr Johnson, who has worked in some of London's most challenging schools and units and who is the author of the book Failing School, Failing City, said Mr Blair had "absolutely no understanding of how ordinary schools work". He added the Prime Minister - unlike David Blunkett, his Education Secretary - "does not even realise that his own children's potential would have been fulfilled quite adequately in his local secondary schools".

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