March 22, 2004
Centralisers to be sacked - but will centralisation diminish?

The government is continuing to do something about education. Now the something that it is doing is that it is going to sack a lot of the people whom it had previously hired to do all its previous somethings:

Did the Budget signal a change in the government's attitudes to schools and colleges?

Are ministers about to trust schools and teachers to do their own thing? Is there about to be a bonfire of targets?

The decision to give more money directly to head teachers while, at the same time, cutting the number of jobs in the ministry could certainly be spun into a message which suggest that the days of "Whitehall knows best" are over.

It was certainly a bad day for the staff of the Department for Education and Skills: 31% of them will lose their jobs by 2008. That is 1,460 fewer headquarters civil servants.

If they could all be retrained as teachers - preferably of maths, IT or foreign languages - Gordon Brown would have made a useful contribution to solving the teacher shortage too.

I can't see these people ever wanting to be teachers. They, more than anyone, know what torments the government now heeps on teachers for they now do the heeping.

Here's my prediction. The targets and initiatives will remain in place. But, it will now be even more impossible for schools to get straight answers from the DfES about whether the DfES agrees that your school has met these targets and done its duty by these initiatives, and thus whether your school is therefore entitled to the money which meeting these targets and acting on these initiatives ought theoretically to entitle it to. And once the DfES has finally agreed that you are entitled to the money, there will be even more agonisingly prolonged delays than there are now before you actually do get the money.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:03 AM
Category: Politics