Ed Balls has announced that successful and failing schools could be forced to merge in an attempt to improve the standards of state education.
Most of the focus of this announcement ahead of a report to be released next week is upon the decision by Balls to override the £120,000 salary cap, yet this is clearly not the story. More importantly, this is another move in the centralization of power to Westminster. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is clearly usurping the power of schools and local authorities.
The pressure on bad schools to acquiesce to mergers is perhaps understandable, but Balls is facing up to the few state schools that are successful. He will bring pressure to bear in making them merge, stating: “If you are a school that has got the potential to do this but chooses not to, you’re not making a contribution to other schools in your area. Therefore Ofsted will recognise you aren’t being as ambitious as you could be." A not so veiled threat.
Whether people realise it or not, the education system is a market; it just happens to be a very bad one that is controlled through force by a wasteful and inefficient state. Now Balls wants more control, which can only lead to less control and choice at the level of the consumer. Parents and children suffer from these power grabs, taxpayers pick up the bill, while politicians sit in their ivory towers, packing their children off to some of the best private schools in the country.