The Shadow Education secretary has finally emerged from the shadows and released the most depressingly predictable salvo against the independent education sector. Once again we hear the language of combat (“class war”) and the trench-lines are drawn by the very politicians who should be creating a climate of positive engagement. Is this sort of old-style blunderbuss polemic really the best way to ‘force’ independent schools to engage in partnership? Is Mr Hunt aware of the fact that almost all private schools are already working hard on partnerships, resource-sharing and constructive cross-sector dialogue?
As Mr Hunt is privately educated himself it cannot be the politics of envy. Rather, he has ill-advisedly adopted the politics of the battlefield. His belligerent rhetoric is no more than ill-informed propaganda aimed at breeding mistrust. How can partnerships thrive in such an angry climate is cultivated from the top? We will never ensure the best possible provision for 100% of our children if our politicians keep firing missiles at those 7% in fee-paying schools.
He’s right to care about partnerships. We care about partnerships in York. The DfE has just awarded us £20,000 to develop a Maths Primary Partnership. This builds on the huge and growing success of the York ISSP @YorkISSP which has been running and thriving since 2007. He seems to have overlooked the good that is going on; and missed the opportunity to change the tone of the conversation across the sectors. What a shame he felt he had to go into such an ominous and sabre-rattling mode.
Mr Hunt should return to the shadows, get himself better informed and come into the light of day with something positive and new to say. Back to the shadows.