Kazimir Malevich - Suprematist Composition (White on White) 1918
I sat at the back of DT watching a class tussle with fusion. Not fission, which would be dangerous, but fusion, for a fused future. The teacher was interesting and year 8s were away with it. ‘Trainers you drive like shoes’ ‘stuff that hovers so you don’t have to bend down’ ‘contact lenses with your phone on it’, ‘moving blankets’. One prospective Dyson muttered into a sudden silence ‘Vibrates. Yes.’ Obviously, anything’s better if it also vibrates. This at least is a proposition that could be tested in a workshop and then declared to be true, workable or otherwise.
The education White Paper does not submit itself to such tests though it does make similar assertions. It’s in 8 parts and joins up all the loose knitting in Conservative education policy: chapter headings in bold.
1. Our vision for Educational Excellence Everywhere: structural thinking in fancy warm language. ‘you can mandate adequacy but you cannot mandate greatness: it has to be unleashed.’ This government will very rarely dictate how these outcomes should be achieved. Good schools will remain responsible for their own improvement, free from interference, except that you must become academies.
3. Great leaders running our schools and at the heart of the system: in an academised system where schools will be more locally accountable to academy trusts with whom parents have a direct relationship is followed by it is even more important that parents and governing boards should be able to challenge schools and hold them to account. Parent governors, however, are not necessary to achieve this.
4. A school-led system with every school an academy, empowered pupils, parents and communities and a clearly-defined role for local government: the biggest change for us is spreading excellent practice and ending the two-tier system where all schools will have to be academies by 2022 by which point local authorities will no longer maintain any schools. There it is.
5. Preventing underperformance and helping schools go from good to great: school-led improvement with scaffolding and support where it’s needed. Sounds OK.
6. High expectations and a world-leading curriculum for all: the EBacc is something the vast majority of pupils should study, the core academic curriculum for 90%. The definition of mastery is helpful: designed to ensure that no pupil’s understanding is left to chance and each step of a lesson is deliberate, purposeful and precise.
7. Fair, stretching accountability, ambitions for every child: accountability is still a little mealy-mouthed, but progress is the key. The scope of the statutory roles of Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member for Children will be reviewed. There is a description of the role of the Regional Schools Commissioners, appointed by central government.
8. The right resources in the right hands: investing every penny where it can do the most good. The Pupil Premium remains alongside a national funding formula for schools and on top of funding for disadvantaged schools and disadvantaged areas. There’s a clearish explanation of the proposed system. LA funding methods stay as they are for two years, after that we will shift to a single national formula determining each school’s funding.
Quick enough? Or this?
"We decided what to do and stripped away funding from any other structure. We need the market to run the system so we can’t have democratic hindrances. We don’t care enough about teaching to ensure regulated highly competitive entry to a well-paid profession. We’d like to tell you to teach what we got in our public schools, but Gove ended up an embarrassment so we backed off. We prefer tax cuts to investment, so we hope that you don’t realise that the same amount of money to educate loads more children is actually a reduction. We’ll happily centralise everything that undermines local involvement, because we don’t trust the people to agree with us."
There’s no apology for Gove’s Blob statement.