As a local Labour Councillor in Hitchin I spend much of my time in opposition. Can’t be helped, that’s how it is. It never stops me trying to get things done and do the right thing. It does mean that I am used to being angry. I'm also used to feeling confused about the rotten decisions of Tory politicians.
But the government’s latest and totally irrational assault on the education of our children has left me angry and confused. How on earth can a government apparently devoted to devolution of powers away from the centre make a complete exception in the case of education in Hertfordshire’s schools? And how can the Tory County Council behave as though that’s OK when more thoughtful Conservatives in Trafford, Hampshire and Oxfordshire to name but three have already told government to stop this insanity.
So what does this mean locally? It means all of our primary schools, the vast majority of which currently nurture, teach and encourage marvellous learning with the support and guidance of the local education authority will have to go through time-consuming, expensive and distracting re-organisations over the next few years even if they are known to be working just fine. Why force them to become Academies whether or not they would benefit from such a change?
To make matters worse the party that used to say that parents should have a greater say in their children’s education now says they can’t be school governors after all. Apparently they weren't any good at it. But who could possibly care more about the quality of education than local parents and local teachers committed to the highest standards, the broadest curriculum and a real sense of local community.
So locally elected County Councillors have no role, and nor do parents according to this dogmatic and stupid government, in the education of their local children. Oh and teachers won’t need to be qualified!
Education will be run exclusively from Whitehall with no local input whatsoever. This is odd. We have explicit responsibility for the health and safety of children, for their protection, their care and their well-being. How can we possibly exclude their education in those responsibilities?
Time for Hertfordshire County Council to tell government “leave our kids alone” and let them continue to thrive in positive partnerships between schools, parents and the local authority.
Herts County Labour Group Education Spokesperson
County Councillor for Hitchin North