Magazine article Public Finance

Class Struggle

Magazine article Public Finance

Class Struggle

Article excerpt

Almost ten years on from Tony Blair's rallying cry of 'education, education, education', and there still seems an awful lot left to do.

This week's damning report from the National Audit Office must have been a depressing read for the prime minister. It shows that more than 1 million pupils are taught in 'struggling' or poorly performing schools across England.

Billions of pounds and countless initiatives - Excellence in Cities, Fresh Start, federations and academies to name just a few - have yet to have the impact that Blair expected. There are simply too many failing and coasting schools.

The NAO report highlights a lack of urgency. It says that local authorities do not do enough to prevent schools from declining; they have statutory powers to enforce change, but rarely use them. Schools are allowed to drift, with the result that a significant part of a child's school career can be blighted.

With a funding system designed to protect all schools - even those with falling rolls - little financial pressure can be brought to bear. This philosophy, of course, contrasts sharply with that employed in the NHS where, under payment by results, it is possible for failing trusts to go bust. …

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