Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Monday, 26 April 2010

Michael Gove eats John Humphrys

John Humphrys opens the interview with a well-prepared attack line, using a quote from leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter - but was left, so it seemed, almost open-mouthed when he learned that Mr Gove had spoken to Mr Carter - this morning, after he had been interviewed by the BBC - and confirms that Mr Carter was referring to the current funding position (now, at this moment, under Labour), with money being taken away from the state sector and spent on PFI initiatives. The moment would have made wonderful television.

PFI is 'outside' the state sector in terms of organisation and funding - so these schools already take money away from 'state' schools etc etc - in much the same was as the Conservatives' planned new/replacement schools would be. So it would seem that, maybe, the Conservatives idea isn't significantly different, except that it puts parents first - rather than big businesses such as Jarvis and French company Vinci and various consortia. It's worth noting that even Unison doesn't like PFI Schools.

Mr Gove knows the figures too, it was nice to hear them used properly, rather than just being reeled off as a list.

The issue of "Titan Schools" was raised. These schools are much loved by Mr Balls and DCSF, and would see children travelling huge distances to massive, impersonal schools with many, many, thousands of children. Such large schools combined with the distances involved, would, Mrs Rigby thinks, effectively, break the home/parent-school link.

Mr Humphrys managed to say that parents want their children to be educated locally - and people are being 'forced into being activists' because they're unhappy with current results/provision - and tried to turn it against Mr Gove who had quoted these same people**. It was another jaw-dropping moment.

Oh, nearly forgot, you can listen to the broadcast here

h/t Constantly Furious

Did you know that the PFI schools (land and buildings) are only rented, some on twenty year leases? Mrs Rigby read about it the other day, but she can't recall where.

Mrs Rigby thinks Mr Gove was referring to parents in Kirklees
The Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal Parents' Alliance (BBGPA) was set up amid fears that the closure [of the local school] would leave families without a school in the area, forcing pupils to travel 45 minutes to the nearest one.

[Their] plan to open their own secondary school was blocked by the government.


Macheath said...

The BBC news website's take on this is interesting: under the headline Tories' Warning on Free Schools, it goes on to say:

'Conservative plans to allow parents to set up schools with state funding have been called into question by two senior Tory council figures. Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said funding parents to start their own "free schools" would threaten the budgets of other local schools.[...]

Councillor Carter later issued a clarification saying: "I am 100% behind Michael Gove's education plans, which will introduce more competition, give parents more choice and help drive up standards across the country." '

So someone here has done an ungainly U-turn, and, having heard the interview this morning, I don't think it was Mr Carter.

It's impartiality, Jim, but not as we know it.

Mrs Rigby said...

The level of impartiality depends on which side you're on.