You and I we know something about schools, let me make it clear I mean state schools. If you went to a fee-paying school you should probably stop reading here. I went to a state primary school which as it happened was just across the road, I could see it from my window. In the second week I had my fifth birthday, I have only happy memories. I learnt to read, write and count, how these things happened I really don’t remember. Reform was afoot as I made my way through primary school, the Butler Education Act was passed in 1944, I think it did not come into operation until 1948. The Act stated that free secondary education would be available to all children up to the age of 15. The premise on which the Act was based was that there were three types of children, the academic, the technical and those suited to a more general education. At the age of 11 these particular abilities could be discovered by means of a test, afterwards called the 11+. Grammar schools which had previously been fee-paying would now be free to those boys and girls who passed the 11+. Technical schools would prosper to prepare engineers, draughtsmen and those skilled in domestic science, general education was those going into factories and labouring jobs. Sadly technical schools did not prosper, they either became grammar schools or lost their previous motivation and became secondary moderns.
All these schools were supported by tax-payers money and all were controlled by their local educational authority and supported in various ways when specialist help was needed. The elected representatives were accountable to their voters and the parents of the children in their care. Now all this is to be swept aside, schools and their grounds and all their equipment are to be not sold but freely handed over to Corporate Academies who will be responsible to no-one for their financial management ; the headmaster or headmistress will be totally in charge of the hiring and firing of teachers and with freedom to fix the level of salaries. There will be no more teaching unions. Now we are getting to the nub of the matter. The head will be extremely well paid but no member of staff will have security of employment or salary. Now that really is stripping away workers’ rights and making teachers part of the precariat. Tests will reign supreme inspire of the fact that most adults know there are many questions in life which do not have a tick box answer.