This blog is reposted here from John’s 2010 election blog for ASCL.
I have tried to keep quiet during the election campaign and let the parties fight it out on the basis of their manifestos. If asked to comment, I refer journalists to the ASCL election manifesto – our proactive view of what should happen to education policy after 6 May. In that way, ASCL maintains its independence of all political parties.
The public relies on politicians to put their case clearly and on journalists to question party front-benchers on all aspects of policy. However, the sparring match between John Humphrys and Michael Gove this morning on the Today programme on the funding of the Conservatives’ parent-run schools was just that – a sparring match, with no light being shed on the central issues.
Mike Baker has tried to explain the complications of the political parties’ claims on school funding in http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8641073.stm.
But the questions that John Humphrys failed to ask, and Michael Gove did not have the opportunity to answer, are not the extent to which Paul Carter of Kent LA supports Tory policy or not. They are these:
(a) What will be the effect on other state schools of funding lots of parent-run small schools, which will inevitably have diseconomies of scale?
(b) Will local authorities be expected to continue to have functions, such as admissions and SEN, and how will they be paid to perform them? and
(c) If there are many parent-run schools and lots more academies, funded outside the local authority system, will that mean that the local authorities receive less money to do the same job?
So we need clarity from the Conservatives on the detail of how schools – parent-run, academies, local authority community schools – will be funded equitably and similar clarity on what they see as the role of local authorities and how that will be funded. And, because the quantum of future funding is giving such anxiety to school and college leaders, we need clarity from all political parties on exactly what will, and what will not, be cut from the schools’ and colleges’ budget. Efficiency savings and cutting quangos won’t do it alone.