Terry Wrigley

Bad science, worse politics

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The new policy briefing on children's education by Michael Gove's top advisor is a justification for inequality

A leaked policy document from Michael Gove's top adviser, Dominic Cummings, shows the vision underpinning educational policy in England. The claim that intelligence is mainly inherited attracted most attention, and is used to justify closing hundreds of Sure Start children's centres for the most disadvantaged.

According to Cummings, these parents are poor because they are stupid, and pass on stupidity genes to their children, so it is futile to provide nurseries.

Growing up in Goveland: how politicians are wrecking schools

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The leaking of Michael Gove's plans to return to O-levels in place of GCSEs reignited a row about "falling standards" in British schools. Here Terry Wrigley argues it is not enough for the left to simply dismiss such claims - instead we must argue that the root of the problem lies in the marketisation of education

Right wing politicians like nothing better than a good disaster. Disasters give them an excuse to intervene and make matters worse. If there wasn't a financial crisis, Cameron's gang would have to invent one. Now education secretary Michael Gove is using supposed "falling standards" to destroy comprehensive education and condemn most working class pupils to a second rate education. By abolishing GCSEs and restoring the old "O-level", he is trying to return to the days when only a minority of 16 year olds took a school-leaving exam.

What has the local education authority ever done for us?

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As the Tories accelerate the drive for schools to become Academies,
Terry Wrigley looks at why local education authorities are being sidelined

There has been widespread opposition to the government's reform of how the NHS is governed, and an understanding that the new structures would accelerate privatisation. Most people reject the idea of healthcare being run as a business. Despite active local campaigns and union opposition, why has popular opposition to the privatisation of schools as academies been more muted?

School Wars

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Melissa Benn

School Wars is an important and readable book which places current government education policies in some historical context. Its main theme is the ruling class's determination to sustain its own elite schools, while simultaneously attacking schools for the majority.

Melissa Benn describes the media's unscrupulous assault on comprehensive schools. A supply teacher, who actually hadn't taught for 30 years, was sent by Channel Five to spy on Holland Park, the author's former school.

Reinventing Schools, Reforming Teaching

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John Bangs, John MacBeath and Maurice Galton

This book provides new and welcome insights into the workings of Blair's and Brown's governments. It is thoroughly researched, and based on interviews with key individuals.
Above all, it demonstrates convincingly that the top-down and authoritarian policy formation and implementation were no accident. Perhaps the most memorable quotation is from Blair's first education minister, David Blunkett: "We had a crap teaching profession. We haven't any more."

The Death and Life of the Great American School System

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Diane Ravitch, Basic Books, £15.99

This new book from the US has exposed the disastrous nature of school privatisation. Surprisingly, its author Diane Ravitch is a pillar of the conservative establishment who, after 20 years promoting the virtues of markets, testing and privatisation, has publicly acknowledged it was a disastrous mistake.

Education at the Crossroads

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The coalition government has launched a colossal attack on all aspects of our education system. Terry Wrigley argues that this is an acceleration of previous governments' policies to drive the market into the heart of learning and will deepen a class hierarchy of institutions and students.


A police officer amid the aftermath of students' "Day X3" protest in December. Photo: Geoff Dexter

Students and the Working Class: a response

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In last month's Socialist Review, Chris Harman makes some very important points.

Students have played a significant part in the revolts in Italy, France, Chile and Greece, and it is foolish to write them off as a 'privileged social layer'. And equally, agitation should not focus solely on economic demands but must engage with the nature of capitalist power in the world. However, the logic in the middle seems flawed.

Dare to Know

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Review of 'The War For Children's Minds', Stephen Law, Routledge £14.99

This book is timely, with its argument for enhancing critical discussion in schools, and in the general upbringing of young people. It is written at a time when Christian fundamentalism dominates the White House and Blair desperately seeks to hand schools over to faith groups. Neo-conservatism is increasingly deployed to provide an ideological cement in a society torn apart by neo-liberal politics and economics.

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