The flagship Free Schools policy of Michael “Oiky” Gove is faring badly: more and more of them are being rated in the bottom two categories by Ofsted, one even closed its doors last week, and there have been fraud arrests at two more. So a particularly pointless sacrifice is called for, and the loathsome Toby Young is the ideal volunteer. To this end he has authored a “pamphlet”.
Yes, "Oiky", you're blowing our money
Such is the demand for Tobes’ superior insights that this is being advertised to anyone he can find. Titled “Prisoners of The Blob ... why most education experts are wrong about nearly everything”, it has been published by Civitas, a right-wing “think tank” who share the same London address as the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance. Those who have sampled Tobes’ writings will not be disappointed.
Indeed, it is the usual fayre: asserting that nobody ever takes part in learning facts and figures, or the names of kings and queens, and that modern educational thought does away with discipline, proper grammar and spelling, real hard sums (tm) and a good dose of spine-stiffening faith instruction. This mythical world is then said to be damning evidence in his condemnation of those modern methods.
But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one problem with this idea: it was bollocks. Tobes is putting up one enormous strawman just so be can knock it down and install himself as champion defender of Govian rigour against all those rotten lefties. Meanwhile, in the real world, the woes of “Oiky’s” Brave New World continue: some of the latest news is particularly grim.
The Observer has obtained a leaked document which “shows that the Department for Education wants to tackle the problems at inadequate free schools before their failings are made public by Ofsted, at which point they can be used as political ammunition. It suggests that party political considerations are now driving education policy a year ahead of the general election”. Do go on.
“In the document ... it is proposed that ministers will monitor free schools through private education advisers and be responsible for making key early decisions on tackling problems because of the risk of major political fallout further down the road”. That’s a bit like sending pupils for pre-exam “cramming” to improve their grades. Except that, as with the rest of the Free School miracle, we’re paying for it.
On top of that, a row has broken out over a faith school where every parent whose child has been allocated a place against their wishes has objected (and there’s a planning row going on, too). Then, to put the lid on it, a Free School on the south coast has been conned out of more than a million notes by bank account blaggers thought to be from eastern Europe.
No wonder Tobes wants us to “look over there” at his magnificent strawman.