LEAs or parents? Carter or Gove?


Cllr Paul Carter, the leader of Kent County Council, says he thinks the Conservatives' education policies could be a disaster and could starve state education services of cash. Paul Carter is, of course, a Conservative.

A kick in the teeth for Michael Gove, the Conservatives' education spokesman and architect of the new policy? No. Just an indications of what reformers are up against when they try to devolve power away from the political system and down to local people themselves.

Mrs Thatcher faced exactly the same criticism when she proposed the 'internal market' in education – state schools managing themselves, without the local authorities bossing them around, and being paid according to the number of pupils they attract. Indeed, the criticism came from exactly the same source – Paul Carter's predecessor as leader of Kent County Council, Sir Alexander ('Sandy') Bruce-Lockhart.

Am I the only person who is sickened by this? Michael Gove's Swedish-style schools policy would of course sideline local education authorities just as Mrs Thatcher's (reversed in the early years of the Blair administration) would have done. It would give all parents, rich and poor, access to the schools that they thought were best for their own children – rather than forcing them to accept whatever local councillors deem good for them. You can see why local councillors don't like that: it undermines their control and their empires, and exposes the fact that they aren't actually providing the kind of schools that people want. Reactionaries, the Left would call them. David Cameron should tell them to shut up.