UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Benefits of State Education?

News that 70 per cent of Scottish medals winners at the Olympics came from state schools should give some encouragement that the public education system in Scotland is delivering better that the UK overall. But the debate over funding in the last few days betrays the standard tactic of the Right of mounting assaults and blaming the victims.

While cutting funds to state schools in England, including reducing the requirement for sport, David Cameron pulls out the old chestnut that the problem is really trendy left teachers not wanting pupils to compete.

Angie Porter, director of Glasgow’s state run Glasgow School of Sport at Bellahouston Academy sums up the real problem when she says that many schools were still trying to recover from the cuts in the 80s that saw sports facilities sold off in schools.

And it is still happening. As a BBC report of a Guardian FOI request shows, Education Secretary Michael Gove has approved the sale of more than 20 school sports fields in the past two years, with 213 playing fields approved for sale between 1999 and April 2010 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19162126

And as Christine Blower, general-secretary of the National Union of Teachers, points out: "It is ludicrous to suggest teachers are letting the side down. It is not because of teachers that funding for schools sport partnership has been drastically cut (by £160m)." http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/olympic-gold-medallists-laura-trott-and-chris-hoy-tell-pm-hands-off-sport-funding-8022844.html  

Research compiled by Labour through FOI requests to 150 top tier local authorities in England, shows there are now 110 fewer School Sport Partnerships than there were before the cuts in 2009/10, a decline of 37%. Almost half of local authorities (48%) recorded a decrease in the number of School Sport Partnerships, while 28% no longer have any. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/18/school-sport-drop-funding-cuts

Add to that the fact that the whole system in many schools relies on teachers fostering sport unpaid over and above normal working hours, and Cameron’s bluster about investing in sport looks all the more ridiculous.

The Cameron attacks on teachers and the Daily Mail’s conclusion that if you want to succeed in sport, go to a private school, may sound absurd but they are part of a strategy that exposes the very root of what they are about.

Be it social care, the NHS or education, the line is the same. Cut universal provision, undermine it and blame the provision itself in the hope that people will swallow the need to sell it off to their pals to profit from it.

Issues like tax breaks for private schools as ‘charities’ or cutting regulations and workers rights to allow profiteers to make money out of care, not only widen the equality gulf, they bizarrely end up with us all subsidising the elite who can afford to pay for it. Now there’s an odd redistribution of wealth!