I have been provoked into setting up this blog by anger, dissatisfaction, frustration, sadness and a whole heap of other negative feelings and perceptions about what is happening to the learning opportunities and life choices of children and adults across the education sector in England. The steady march towards increasing public-private partnership and marketisation has been gathering pace since the 1988 Education Reform Act. This act brought about the imposition of market forces on public services and schools and began the commodification of services, infrastructure and labour in education. The steady march has now become an adrenaline fueled race towards the full privatisation of education and schooling in England. Significantly, this includes private ownership of public assets and a huge amount of asset stripping from local authorities for the ultimate profit of private investors. These are irreversible losses that seem to be going unnoticed. Operating principles and values in education policy are changing to reflect only private and commercial interests, with a fleeting and empty rhetoric tossed at the notion of education as a public or community good. Policy decisions are made at breakneck speed, and in batches, often with no pretence even of looking at a range of evidence, seeking knowledge, or listening to expert and qualified advisors.
Constant speed and change in education policy-making is nothing new. Neither are the loud and tangled responses of a multitude of stakeholders debating, suggesting, knowing or dictating what they think schooling should provide, and how, and to whom, and on what basis. What is new, is the ideological shift from education as a public good to education as a market commodity. In response to this there is also an increasing number and strength of voices calling for education policy making to be taken from the hands of politicians. There is a move by head teachers, backed by the teaching unions, to set up a college of teaching to improve the reputation of the profession and rescue it from fads and fetishes. There is a Free Education web site calling for education policy to be made by an elected professional body of teachers. For every person or group who wants to see policy making taken from the hands of politicians there is also an assumption that it should be given to them. There is very little debate that I can find about who should make the decisions that affect the lives and life choices of children and young people and why. The debate is all about the what and the how. It is also clear from social media networks and the press that discussions about the what and the how focus on reacting to what is rather than asking from a basis of ideals and principles, what could be.
It is also the case that there is a view amongst some education professionals that education policy making can and should be non ideological, and that teaching is not a political activity. I have decided to write this blog in order that I may offer a more ideological dimension to the spectrum of current debate and action. I am sure there are others who also do this and I hope that through this blog we may together engender more willingness and a greater capacity for ideological critque as part of education policy making.