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Co-op schools won't work in deprived areas in the UK until Cameron and people like him stop sending their kids to public school. It doesn't happen in the rest of Europe. They work in Sweden because Sweden is a socialist country where social cooperation trumps the free market.

Until the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country have a direct interest in the condition of state schools, nothing will be fixed.

Excellent stuff. Let's just hope it can finally help us to overcome the "sheep mentality" that many living in inner cities seem to have adopted as regards their voting habits

At the risk of looking dim, whats a co-op school?

This is brilliant news. Labour have failed Manchester for generations and there is severe poverty in areas like Hulme, Ardwick, Moss Side and Salford. The Conservative party should take the message of change into such areas. I believe the reason why so many Labour heartlands are beset with poverty is because they are Labour heartlands. Generations of Labour rule at local government level have left such areas literally in ruins. Further out from Manchester there are areas like Little Hulton and Hindley that are crumbling under Labour. These areas need Conservative support. If there was ever a time to make inroads into the Labour heartlands then that time is now. People are sick of Labour and want change. Labour arrogantly assume that these areas belong to them yet often only win local elections with a 15% turnout.

passing leftie, is that the best you can do? I'm supposed to believe that the schools in Hackney have been so sh*t because David Cameron went to a public school? It's nothing to do with how the schools are controlled, funded and ran?

"The most powerful people in the country" are probably parents who give a damn about the outcomes for their children. What the Tories are offering is a machine by which such parents can turn their commitment into a school, to be run according to their wishes. Other than saying "Cameron is posh" (we've noticed; it's irrelevant), what has the intelligent left to offer as contribution to the education policy of the UK? Spot fines for truants?

Passie Leftie, I may be wrong, but as far as I am aware David Cameron has always said that his children will be attending a local state school.

Passing Leftie - showing off your prejudices, I see. Cameron does not send his children to public school. His oldest son is in a state-sector special school. He is trying to get his daughter into a CofE primary school, but she won't start school for at least another year. He has always said he wants to send his children to local state schools if possible.

James - as I understand it (looking at the BBC coverage), the idea is to help people group together to take control of some local services, including setting up schools. The school would be taxpayer funded but owned by parents and the community, as per the quote in the article above.

passing leftie,

Without the independent education sector there would be absolutely _no_ alternative for kids/parents for those who cannot afford to move close to a good school if need be; for them if the local school is crap then that's their kids' chances in life shafted. I realise that this approach suits some on the left who have this perverse interest in reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator (or "equality") but some of us want kids and parents to be able to aspire to be better.

I do not think it is a coincidence that despite all the cash that Labour have pumped into state education, the independent sector is flourishing as never before. Radical reform of the state sector is required and then, maybe, if the state schools start to come up to scratch you will see kids moving back from independent schools.

The Swedish approach, maybe in the longer term coupled to a voucher system, looks like an extremely attractive mechanism for achieving this. So I suggest you spend less time criticing constructive Tory policy and start lobbying Ed Balls to reverse his recent moves to bring state education even more tightly under LEA control.

Oh, and passing leftie, if the Swedish system only works well in a socialist country then how do you explain the success of the Pioneer schools in the US - a country not exactly famed for its left-wing credentials? I think you are arguing based on ideological prejudice rather than the facts.

At last, some original policy from Dave! This is the sort of localist, anti-state policy that we need. I hope that the funding models will not allow local authorities or Whitehall to inhibit their development.

Cameron ought to look at the success of the "gymnasium" schools in other European countries. The American "Charter Schools" are another successful option. We need diversity and competition in education.

The Conservatives also need to protect homeschoolers from being bullied and harrassed by LEAs. Homeschoolers outperform pupils in American state schools.

All the "grammargate" nonsense could have been avoided if Willetts had focused on policy development rather than attack selective education that is valued by Tory members and voters. It is not surprising that Willetts is rated so badly on this site's polls.

Why can't we expand the policy to the health service rather than create, as Lansley proposed over the weekend, a big central government quango? We need consistency. Letwin must give up his day job at Rothschilds and deliver real co-ordination.

I see the Tories have decided to revive their fortunes in Manchester by...

...bussing in a load of southern hooray henries and henriettas to tell the locals how awful their city is.

Political genius.

Will the pupils collect the divvy?

Who does Cameron think he is , goes to Manchester and slags off the City , what a great vote winner, I dont think so !

"We shouldn't look down our noses at vocational training at school - so that youngsters can leave school with a trade such as bricklaying or plumbing."

IDS speaking in the Manchester Evening News. I think it would be a great move if the Conservative party introduced blue collar vocational options into the school curriculum. Many boys in particular respond better to hands-on subjects rather than sitting passively in a humanities lesson.

Jobs that are available are often out of reach because jobless youth don't have the skills. School is the place to begin vocational training rather than hoping they might enroll at college. In fact the last year of school should be spent in college, either part or full-time. This would help those in the final year get a taste for college life and the more mature environment of college would help their maturity.

Regardless of where Camerons sends his children (there is such a thing a private tuition, anyway), would it be possible for the Tories to grasp the idea that it does not matter who sets up the school if the structure, curriculum and examination system is still controlled by the state either centrally or locally? Nothing will change until money starts following children not schools as it does in Sweden, by the way. As a matter of fact, a lot of people in "deprived" areas would be interested in that as well.

Still, it is good to know that Cameron is being tutored in Conservative Party history as his mention of Disraeli and Carlyle sort of indicates.

Good to hear. I always wondered what Cameron's views would be on some sort of Co-operative. They are often a good alternative to state interference without going as far as complete privatisation.

is this just public ownership, a socialist idea?


So, rather than the truth you'd prefer Labour telling Mancunians how "wonderful" it all is after decades of their stewardship of the city??

The evidence is overwhelming and the message crystal clear:

Core-Labour voting areas are failed areas.

If you continue to vote Labour like donkeys, your area will continue to fail.

End of.

Cool, localised funding with no central interference to build COGS (Co-Op Grammar schools). :-)

That is the idea isn't it?

Probably fine, so long as you don't CALL it a grammer school

Good point Paul. We'll just tell Team Cameron that COGS means Co-Operatively *Generated* schools and that they will produce educational excellence, and we just might get away with it... ;-)

Hopefully, nobody will be calling it a "grammer" school

I hope so, Chad but Paul D makes a good point. Just call them "Community Schools".

Passing Leftie, if you’re a Londoner, you probably have a choice of twenty junior / primary schools within a mile of your doorstep. If you live in Netley Abbey you’d have a choice of one and, if you knew it, you wouldn’t want your child going there.

To very many families, state education provides no choices. Rather than forcing people to move to other catchment areas, why not enable them to make a direct impact on their local schools (without becoming an oh-so-powerful parent governor)?

"The American "Charter Schools" are another successful option."

Academies are explicit copies of the charter school model.

In fact, as someone involved in local government provision of education, I would also assume that co-op schools and pioneer schools will be funded and provided via Academy legislation.

That is to say, it is the model set out in the "grammar schools" speech which you apparently haven't read.

Glad to see you keeping up, though.

"Probably fine, so long as you don't CALL it a grammer school"

Quoted for posterity.

Passing leftie,

At least you recognise that there is a serious problem with state education in this country.
Now ask yourself honestly, is the cause of this problem more likely to be:
a) the system that funds and provides education for the vast majority of the population or
b) the fact that an insignificant percentage of the population choose to opt out of this system and select private educational providers, who do not appear to suffer from the same problems as the state funded majority.
In what way would having fewer alternatives to a dysfunctional state educational system improve that system?
How does the fact that socialist sweden has implemented a market based solution (vouchers) to its education problems support your argument?

I just have to adress one myth that circulates on this blogg, and especially in the comment-section.
Sweden is NOT a socialist country.

It is correct that Sweden offers its citizen a strong welfare state, "security from womb to tomb", etc.
However, the Swedish economy have always been based on the free market.
For example, quite few Swedish social-democrats beleive that the state should own the "commanding heights" of the economy.

The belief in the free market have traditionally been far stronger in the Swedish Social-Democratic Party than in the British Labour Party.

Why did David Cameron seem to draw a distinction between co-operative and profit-making? Co-operatives can make profits too! Whether or not a business is run for-profit or not-for-profit seems largely independent of whether or not it is a co-operative.

Nothing like the uninformed comments of a "passing leftie" to unite the readers of Conservative Home! Good on you people!

Good move by DC and IDS. More please,


I believe the reason why so many Labour heartlands are beset with poverty is because they are Labour heartlands. Generations of Labour rule at local government level have left such areas literally in ruins.

Posted by: Tony Makara | November 08, 2007 at 09:51

Don't forget this point. It relates to everything.

Why not go the whole way and have private charities limited by guarantee running schools and hospitals, they can charge fees for their services and there can be low interest loans available repayable in the same way as the Student Loans are now. Thus saving money and granting a greater degree of autonomy.

I should point out to you that Cameron's words have gone down like a lead balloon here in Manchester.

What this basically is, is a bunch of Southerners who've come up here to tell us how dreadful our city is.

This is incredibly cheeky since Manchester was literally a ghost town under Thatcher and Major and it was only when Labour came to power that things got much better for us.

Manchester today is a massive improvement on what it was in the 1980's. Thatcher didn't give a damn about the North and you're still paying for that today. That's why you have no councillors in Manchester and only 1 MP in Greater Manchester.

If you want to criticise cities take a look at London - it's a dump compared to Manchester.

And whilst not every part of Manchester has become prosperous, we're damn sure that the people in Moss Side and Longsight will have a better chance of succeeding under Labour then they ever would under the uncaring, heartless Tories.

Thank you.

Yes of course 'Passing Mancunian' (or is it Tom Watson MP?!), Moss Side and Longsight are veritable booming conurbations gradually becoming gentrified on the milk and honey of ten years of Labour rule. I think not.

Lest we forgot, the MP for Salford is one Hazel Blears...Out of the other MPs in the area, I suppose Michael Meacher earns his crust, though he's actually over in Oldham.

As Tony Makara has pointed out more eloquently than I can, maybe these places are so beset with poverty precisely because they blindly vote in Labour MPs.

Iain Duncan Smith's social justice work is to be applauded and it must continue. If or when we are in government, IDS is going to be key in implementing the measures required to tackle poverty. I daren't call it 'lifting people out of poverty' like Labour, rather - giving people the skills, initiative and incentive to lift themselves out of poverty.

As DC has said before, the next Conservative government will focus on social issues: The fact that under Labour the gap between rich and poor has increased is a disgrace.


No, I'm not an MP - I don't belong to any political party but yes, I do vote Labour.

Edison, it's that attitude that holds you back so much. You seem to talk patronisingly about Mancunians as though we're all stupid and we just continually vote Labour regardless. Well, we vote for Labour precisely because we are not stupid. The fact is Manchester is far, far better off now after 10 years of a Labour govt. than it ever was under Thatcher and Major. I'm sure even you cannot deny that.

There is no incentive for Mancunians to vote Tory because we know that our city won't improve under the Tories. Tories are more for shire counties, not for cities - and especially Northern ones at that. Tory MP's are mostly Southerners who pronounce things weirdly (Irarq instead of Iraq as it's supposed to be!) So why on earth are you so surprised that Tories don't get anywhere here?

Instead of getting infuriated that Mancunians vote Labour all the time, try and understand and recognise that people vote Labour here because our lives have improved immensly under this government.

It's no different to people in Surrey who will blindly vote Tory no matter who you put up as a candidate.

"The fact is Manchester is far, far better off now after 10 years of a Labour govt"

Passing Mancunian, I know the area very well and apart from the city centre Manchester has dire problems. Especially in the suburbs of the south. I well remember the riots down Alexander Park in 1981 and conditions are worse today than they were back then. Labour are Manchester's problem yet Labour arrogantly think Manchester isn't their problem.

Passing Manc. The hard fact is that labour tend to take their "strong" areas for granted. In fact there are elements in Labour that instinctively dislike the idea of such areas improving in case they become less Labour supporting. Labour will kick and scream at this point but sadly it is true. The other great irony is that where Conservatives become councillors in areas where there are for example council estates which might otherwise have been thought of as Labour strong areas, the Conservatives have to look after those estates even more. Something that starts to dawn on those areas when they do get Conservative representatives. Put bluntly Conservatives cannot afford to take those areas for granted.

This is excellent stuff with co-operative schools freed from the state ownership, owned instead by parents and the local community. However, does taxpayer funding inevitably mean some state control? Maybe I’m misunderstanding something.

Matt Wright, the evidence does not stack up.

As I said before, the people in these Labour heartlands are not stupid - they vote Labour because it is Labour who have improved those areas most. If people here felt that the Tories would do a good job, then they'd vote for them.

You shouldn't be so arrogant as to assume that everyone should vote Tory and anyone who doesn't is just thick. It's that attitude that makes your party so dislikeable up here.

All areas in Manchester have improved under Labour (albeit some more than others), where as Manchester went backwards under the Tories, so the proof is in the pudding. You can't say you're the ones who will improve our lives most, when your track record says anything but that. And I don't think Mr. Cameron has really improved your chances today either.

I could just as easily say the same thing about Surrey - people blindly vote Tory even though 'middle England' has probably prospered more under Blair and Brown than under Thatcher and Major.

The idea is sound as long as Cameron rescinds his Grammar Schools policy. Giving the public the opportunity to set up schools as they would like it is pointless when weve already said we want to put rocket boosters on Academies and not allow anymore Grammar Schools.

I fear theres an awful lot more to this than meets the eye. Will there be more regulation or less regulation for these schools? Cameron must flesh this lot out more.

Helen @ 11.18 is right. For us to see a real improvement in school standards through these co-operative schools its important that the State backs off from imposing restrictions on structure and curriculum. These schools have to be free to innovate, not restricted so that they duplicate existing schools.

Good debate going on today, and I won't repeat any of what has been said, but have one point to passinf leftie:

I know people who have gone to the major public schools in this country, and I have to say an awful lot of students at these schools come from other countries. Including Sweden

Er...talking about justice, what's happened to the thread about the bunglings of 'Sir' Ian Blair?

At long last Tory representatives are really doing their job and hounding this ghastly PC PC.

Why aren't we talking about this major issue?

Two years on and there hasn't been a single substantial policy from Mr Cameron...I wonder if I could possibly be allowed to show him how to write good, effective policy rather than all this spin and hot air.

I find it hard to understand why we are ahead in the polls again when not a single idea has come out of any of you since Dave took over but never mind. The public probably won't swallow it at any election and I'll have my seat back by then, so I doubt this stupid initiative aimed at the "poor" (when even the poor these days no longer call themsselves poor or even working class) will really excite anyone beyond a few marketing people in Great Victoria Street...if it's still standing after what happened in February when Dave mistook his wastebin for an ashtray.

You're all on a week's warning and if nothing substantial comes out of your mouths within that time then I blow the lid on Dave's dealings with the leadership election, the general election and my treatment before and after he entered parliament in 2001.

The British people deserve a lot better than this and if any of you disagree, [email protected] is my email address and I'd like to hear some concrete discussions of serious policy not another marketing gimmick from "Foxy", as he is called in the corridors at Westminster.

The massive increase in educational spending is beginning to show dividends, particularly in primary schools, and standards of education are improving. The secondary school system still needs more work. Most of the problems with schools are related to inner city poverty.

The 7% of the population (not an insignificant number at all) who choose to send their children to public school are undermining education for the rest.

The big difference with the Swedish voucher system which you conveniently forget is that it can't be "topped up" that is, it's a virtual voucher and not a way of subsidizing privelege. They are also not allowed to test students. So, if the independent schools in this country were under the same strictures (first come, first served, no testing, fees same as the state system), well, that would be an improvement.

But, I'd guess, that isn't what Cameron is talking about, is it?

"The 7% of the population (not an insignificant number at all) who choose to send their children to public school are undermining education for the rest."

This is unadulterated claptrap. Why is sending your kids to private school bad? Private school parents subsidise state schools, without clogging up their places. Would you prefer all private school attendees to be put into the state sector instead?

In answer to Powellite, paasing leftie would like all private school attendees to be put into the state sector. That way he can control them and limit other peoples personal freedom to choose what is best for their children

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