By Professor Gus John
This is an excerpt
Much has been made about the spat between deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and education secretary Michael Gove regarding the latter’s plan to liberate Free Schools and increase their numbers by authorising them to employ non-qualified teachers and set their own curriculum. Michael Gove will have us believe that in order to raise standards and improve school effectiveness such that Britain can outshine its G8 neighbours in economic competitiveness, schools and those who run them should be ‘free’ from the shackles of locally elected representatives of the people whom we charge with the responsibility to ensure that every child matters and that there is a good school for every child in every community, capable of delivering to every child their educational entitlement in accordance with International Human Rights Law.
Clegg, on the other hand, believes that ‘it makes no sense to have qualified teacher status if only a few schools have to employ qualified teachers’ and that free schools should have to stick to the national curriculum and provide school meals ‘that meet standards set by the Government’.
The noise in the media has been about the fact that Gove and Clegg appear to be sending different messages, rather than about the role of central government, in coalition or otherwise, to ensure schooling provision is made with due regard to the needs of all children and in accordance with the letter and spirit of equality and human rights legislation. While Nick Clegg’s protest about the employment of unqualified teachers and freedom from the National Curriculum is to be applauded, there are even more fundamental concerns that lie at the very heart of Gove’s free school agenda.