The latest move in Gove’s campaign of forcing academy status was the recent sacking of the entire board of governors of a Somerset school.
The governors of Archbishop Cranmer C of E Primary School have been removed from their roles, on the grounds that they lacked the “skills necessary to drive improvement”, in the words of an LA representative. They have been replaced by a panel of temporary ‘managers’, a term which should raise a sense of foreboding in any school worker. ‘Manager’ carries strong connotations of the private sector, of organisations driven by profit and loss requirements, a vision of privatised education.
The reportage of this case is especially interesting; despite the BBC giving a relatively fair voice to each side in the debate, the school is still described as ‘failing’. However, a search of the Ofsted reports suggests that, if this is the case, the decline must have been a swift and dramatic one. At the previous inspection (2009), the school was judged to be ‘Good’ with many ‘Outstanding’ features. Whilst realistic teachers recognise the pointless nature of Ofsted judgements, by their own terms, they imply a catastrophic collapse in learning and also in behaviour management. A collapse which just happens to coincide with the coalition’s plans for every school to convert to academy status.
Learning is clearly still taking place, but not only amongst the pupils. Education workers everywhere are learning the bitter lesson, that any resistance to Gove’s plans can expect to be met by a vicious and excessive response. The time has come to end the politics of reaction; every union with a stake in the future of schools must take decisive action, standing together. We must take the initiative, and not wait for a private army of managers to replace elected community governors.