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LGC View - Education reform

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Over the past six months or so, a number of commentators have compared the approaches of Michael Gove and Andrew Lansley to their respective pet reform projects in education and health.

By avoiding totemic pieces of legislation, the former has successfully overseen a rapid expansion in the number of academies without provoking the howls of outrage and demonstrations that have greeted the latter’s attempts to hand commissioning powers to a more local level.

But in his desire to make progress on one, simple measure, Mr Gove has allowed a policy vacuum to form around a number of other equally important areas.

In recent weeks, we have seen local government start to outline what the role of councils might be in an education system characterised by high levels of - if not universal - school autonomy.

The sector deserves great credit for the way in which it has kept its focus on its responsibilities to pupils and their families - a trend highlighted by Department for Education-commissioned research covered by LGC.

But Mr Gove has shown himself to be perfectly willing to cast councils as roadblocks to reform to be taken on and vanquished. As the report from Solace shows, councils have so far resisted the temptation to rise to the bait and are still proposing constructive solutions that work with, rather than against, the grain of Mr Gove’s reforms.

But if a better working relationship between councils and education ministers doesn’t emerge, expect primary schools to be the front on which clashes take place.

Dan Drillsma-Milgrom, deputy editor (news)


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