The way in which our school system has been transformed this decade has been, in its ugliest political facets, a rehearsal for the way in which our democratic norms are now being trashed. With academy schools, as with suspension of parliament, two of the key figures were Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings. In the face of widespread protest, Gove used procedures meant for emergencies like anti-terrorist laws to shove the Academies Act through parliament in just five working days.
Around half of all children in state-funded schools are now taught by an academy trust. In this new system that is hostile to democracy, one select committee complained in January that “parents and local people have to fight to obtain even basic information about their children’s schools”. And the schools are accountable not to local councillors but only to officials in Whitehall.