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Haringey Council's grip on local schools breaking up

Anyone who hasn't spotted that there is a revolution taking place in our education system should have a look at this week's Times Education Supplement. The point is not a particular item. It's the whole thing. For a start the recruitment ads are stuffed with notices for free schools and sponsored academies.

Then there is the editorial. There is an article about Haringey - the Labour-run council with the worst schools in the capital. Despite the best efforts of Labour MP David Lammy drastic changes are taking place to sort this out. The Education Secretary Michael Gove is not prepared to pass by on the other side while another generation of the borough's children are betrayed.

The report says:

The break-up of the local authority system in Haringey, North London, was this week fully under way as academy chains moved into the borough.

It has emerged that not only is the Harris Federation planning to take on Downhills Primary School, but it also has plans for another school in the area. Meanwhile, the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is looking to take over two more.

The four primaries - Downhills, Coleraine Park, Noel Park and Nightingale - were told by the Department for Education last year that they were potential academies after years of low results and recent Ofsted reports labelling them inadequate. Six other schools in the borough are also firmly in ministers' sights.

Elsewhere we read about FE colleges being encouraged to sponsor primary schools. Also about "concern" over rigorous phonics tests for year One pupils. Then we have plans for Ofsted under Sir Michael Wilshaw to ensure "delivery" of their changes for failing schools. I was delighted by the ideas of Tony Sewell who is reporting to the Mayor of London and proposes setting up a University Challenge equivalent for London schools and a more London-centric curriculum by reading Dickens.

Then there was a story that 200 more Church schools are planned over the next five years bringing the total to 5,000 and that they are being encouraged to stop being apologetic about their Christian faith.

Do you spot a pattern? That there is something going on here? The left wing educationalists certainly do and they don't like it.

There is an editorial saying that many head teachers are so dismayed by this new direction that they are considering quitting the profession. An accompanying report mentions that Carol Mason, headmistress of the bog standard Brentwood County High School, is leaving as she regards it as "immoral" that there should competition from a free school.

"That's bad, really bad," says the TES editor Gerard Kelly. I hesitate to contradict a man who seems to have assembled an array of scoops in a single issue of a specialist journal.

But Kelly is wrong. I have no ill will for those heads who decide that the approach demanded by Michael Gove is such an anathema that would rather do something else. They will often be dedicated and sincere. Yet the ideals they cling to have been a disaster. Their departure is an immense source of hope.


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