Backtracking Blair: PM forced to reconsider the Schools White Paper
- Local authorities to be allowed to build new comprehensives - Key parts of the admissions code will be made mandatory - Interviewing parents will be outlawed in the primary legislation, including religious interviews.
Peter Reeve, Green Party Education spokesperson, comments: "The Green Party welcomes the Government's change of heart, but the concessions do not go far enough. The proposed reforms still mean that the transporting of 12-year-olds and upwards to secondary schools offered on their rated 'aptitude' will hugely increase. This is undesirable from an environmental and social community point of view.
"Trust schools will still be able to have governing bodies made up of external sponsors but a list of authorised external sponsors has been rejected. This leaves the door open for individuals, groups and corporations with dubious motives to have a major input into the decision-making processes of state schools. This is extremely worrying and could have a serious negative impact on standards.
"Current specialist schools and city academies have external 'sponsors' who the government claims help to create the special ethos of the school. Half of the flagship bodies were ranked among the worst schools in the country in January's league tables. Truancy at some academies was running at more than five times the national rate and GCSE results ranked 50 per cent of the privately-sponsored schools in the table of the worst 200 secondaries in England
"The Green Party advocate government investment in high-quality, local schools which accept pupils from all backgrounds and of all abilities. The government claims to want to promote social cohesion with such gimmicks as 'British day' but when it comes to educational reform, Blair seems determined to destroy communities and allow the private sector to gain a major foothold in our schools. Let's hope the scrutiny of the White Paper continues so that we have a real debate about who we want to hold sway over our children and our society."