George Osborne, Tomorrow’s Budget Announcement and the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry

…..crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished….

Like Lucky’s long random rambling speech about the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry in Waiting for Godot, the announcement by George Osborne in his budget speech tomorrow – already announced – that all state schools will have to become academies is a meaningless hot wind produced by the vapid vapour [smokescreen] that is the Fartov and Belcher of this Tory government.

It is, however, an announcement which as a news item is intended to bury the other news in tomorrow’s budget that Osborne will likely make further cuts to welfare payments for the disabled and other vulnerable people in our society in order to provide money to assist with the tax cuts he wants to make for the wealthiest in society. And this is one of the reasons it has been announced today, established as hereinafter….

It is full of insidious intent and therefore malicious meaning, but it is meaningless as an ideological dictate because the clarion call that this provides our state schools with independence is yet another mirage. That ‘independence’ is always stressed by this government to be ‘from local authority control’ – as if this is by its existence a bad thing – when this too is a complete deflection from the other story which is that such independence is always shackled by what the government legislates state schools do have to follow on a national basis.

It is such a simple argument that I will not delineate further because you either see this clearly or you are wafting the smokescreen into your own eyes for the masochistic myopia it pleasures you. There are arguments for and against the benefits of being an academy, but claiming simplistically that such a status provides the broad brushstroke of independence from [as it is claimed by Cameron] ‘the bureaucrats’ is a lie.

I’ll close this brief outburst on today’s announcement about tomorrow’s announcement – my blog catharsis – by a nostalgic reference to the local authority education control with which I grew up as an English teacher in Devon throughout the 1980s and into the mid-90s. And referring specifically to the English Advisory Service of that time, it was for me the richest, most dynamic, insightful and influential support to me as a teacher and professional and did so much to make me the teacher I was and professional I continue to strive to be. The practical and intellectual support was invigorating, from day one. The most significant impact came from English subject training courses run by the local advisory team across those years, so a team that changed but maintained its exceptional qualities, and the sense of a shared professional journey for teachers in Devon was personally exhilarating as well as fundamentally impacting on those students I, and others, were teaching at that time.

I won’t attempt to outline the many varied courses and foci of these over that 15 or so years [things did change….], but a few that mattered hugely and relate directly to posts I have made recently on this blog about the teaching of writing were those that focused on teachers as writers.

I don’t believe such courses and the intense focus they sustained exist anymore. They don’t exist because there is no local authority infrastructure – anywhere – to finance and implement this, and to sustain it over a period of time that develops expertise. And they don’t exist as well because in-service training ceased to be about subject/professional development and rather the delivery of government dictates on the curriculum, for example the Literacy Strategy I referenced in a recent posting. And these will be the dictates that all state schools as academies will have to follow in the future and certainly have no independence whatsoever to ignore. It isn’t Catch-22. It is what is there when the smokescreen dissipates. Or when you just open your eyes.

I know it is too late. But I had to say something. The dismantling of local authorities began many years ago and they cannot be resurrected I suspect. I also acknowledge that many were never as good as the Devon one – certainly the Education section – that I was so privileged to experience and benefit from. However, there was in Devon at least the model that could and should have been worked on, and developed nationwide, but even Labour under Blair began their decline and demise.

But Labour wouldn’t take from the disabled to give to the silly rich. I don’t think even Lucky would be that grotesque. If this doesn’t in fact happen tomorrow [the jester likes pulling tricks out of the hat] it will soon enough.

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