Privatisation

Get Gove

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Michael Gove, the education secretary, has launched a new wave of academies expansion - forced academies. After the last election Gove rushed the Academies Act through parliament. Last November, almost unnoticed in the wider crisis, he extended his powers to directly intervene in local schools and convert them into academies. The justification is that these are "underperforming" schools.

Gove claims he is a champion of "social justice," and that academies are about helping the neediest. Nothing could be further from the truth. By 2015 Gove will have overseen a 15 percent cut in school budgets in real terms. Programmes such as one to one tuition, behaviour improvement and ethnic minority support programmes are being sacrificed, while Gove now has more centralised power than any previous secretary of state.

Degrees of marketisation

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The new Higher Education White Paper marks a step change in the neoliberal transformation of universities. Jim Wolfreys looks at the ideology behind the government's plans, what it will mean for students, staff and the nature of teaching, and how we can resist

The government's Higher Education White Paper will disrupt and potentially break up the existing system of higher education in England, deterring poorer students from university, subordinating teaching and research to the logic of privatisation and competition, and paving the way for the closure both of courses and of entire institutions.

It makes claims about putting "students at the heart of the system" and "excellent teaching back at the heart of every student's university experience" that are flatly and comprehensively contradicted by the entire content of the document.

The NHS bill: a briefing

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The government's Health and Social Care Bill will spell the end of the NHS as we know it

The National Health Service has a constitution which sets out the framework of principles within which healthcare is provided in England. The government's Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently being considered in the House of Lords, has caused widespread alarm among health workers, patients and the public. The perception is that this bill forces the NHS to privatise - and this perception is correct.

When compared with the principles set out in the constitution, it becomes clear that the bill is intended to destroy the NHS as we know it.
Here's why:

Unhealthy Bill

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Cameron's supposed retreat on the Health Bill and the resulting incandescent splutterings of Alan Milburn reveal splits within the ruling class and the vulnerability of the Con-Dem Government.

However, we must not be complacent. While the report of the NHS Future Forum has made some helpful recommendations it still falls way short of safeguarding the NHS from further encroachment by the private sector.

Universities Inc

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Outbursts of anger from students and academics greeted the plans of philosopher AC Grayling to establish the New College of the Humanities (NCH) - a new for-profit private university with fees of £18,000.

Peter Hall, a financier who has donated more than £450,000 to the Tory party, has provided the money to promote his vision of a market-driven education. To dismiss the NCH merely as a finishing school for the super-rich (which it will be) fails to capture its significance.

New enclosures

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Government plans to sell Britain's forests have run up against massive opposition from the public.

According to an online YouGov poll, 84 percent of people believe that woods and forests should be kept in public hands, with only 2 percent wanting their sell-off.

Coalition minister for environment, food and rural affairs Jim Paice told a select committee last November, "We wish to proceed with very substantial disposal of public forest estate, which could go to the extent of all of it."

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

Unhealthy profits

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The sickness of the economy has done little to dent the healthy profits of private hospitals.

There was a drop of 30,000 patients with private medical insurance seeking treatment in the private sector between 2007 and 2009, and a fall of 45,000 patients paying directly. Yet private hospitals raked in £3.76 billion in 2009 - an increase of 7.5 percent.

Edubusiness unchained

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Since the passing of the Academies Act in July 2010 a new wave of privatisation has been unleashed on our schools. Conversion of outstanding schools to academies or the creation of new "free" schools is allowing edubusiness to expand rapidly.

Ark, EACT and the Harris Academy chain have announced business plans to double the number of academies they control. They are also using the new opportunities to create free schools.

It is a strategy that fits hand in glove with cuts to education budgets and the Tories' idea of a "smaller state". In education minister Michael Gove's world the future is for more and more schools to be privatised so that by the end of the parliament academies are "the norm".

Shame Academy

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The new government has launched a "radical reform" plan to expand the academies programme and introduce "free" schools. This threatens the future of state education by entrenching social segregation. It will also be disastrous for the pay and conditions of school staff and will destroy accountability and democracy in the education system.

Michael Gove, the new secretary of state for education, has written to head teachers in schools judged by Ofsted to be "outstanding" asking if they would like to become academies. The government has removed legal requirements for schools to consult staff and parents about the decision to turn a school into an academy. This is now decided at just one meeting of a school's governing body.

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