Why ideology should be left at the school gate

Posted On 08 Dec 2019 at 12:05 am

Education always features prominently in election campaigns and rightly so. My interest, however, goes far beyond my role as a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate.

As the father of three small children, it is deeply personal. I want to be sure that, when they each start school, they will able to attend well-funded local schools, which meet the highest standards of teaching and facilities.

I therefore warmly welcome my party’s commitment to provide an additional £14 billion of cash funding to schools, much of which will be invested in those in deprived areas.

A further £700 million will be used to help children with special needs and disabilities.

Importantly, funds will be provided to increase salaries for new teachers to £30,000 and to strengthen the teachers’ pension scheme.

Free schools and academies are educational success stories and based on a very successful Swedish model.

Nevertheless, there are still too many state schools, including some in Brighton and Hove, which are unable to provide the high standards of education that all of our children deserve.

This can be the result of underfunding, oversized classes caused by population pressures, overworked teachers and inadequate school buildings.

There are thousands of free schools and academies operating in the country, with many more in the pipeline.

The majority are in deprived areas and provide opportunities to disadvantaged children to obtain high-quality education.

Like their Swedish counterparts, they consistently outperform conventional state schools.

Labour would abolish free schools and academies despite there being numerous hugely popular examples in the city – not least the Bilingual Primary School, the King’s School and PACA.

I think that an open mind should be kept when deciding what is best in any particular situation – ideology should be left at the school gate.

On the subject of choice, Labour’s ideological campaign against independent schools (“private schools”) and their assets is already well known and documented, as are their plans for punitive tax penalties against parents who send their children there.

Most in education agree that an attack on independent schools would simply lead to fewer resources for state schools.

Finally, the majority of parents in Britain consider Ofsted to be a reliable judge of school standards and make their choices accordingly.

Nevertheless, the Labour Party wants to abolish it and pass the primary responsibility for health checks on schools to local councils.

As a councillor, mindful of what is achievable locally, I would be extremely concerned at this prospect.

Robert Nemeth is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hove at the general election.

  1. Kate Milner-Gulland Reply

    There are so many layers of wrong with your views here Mr Nemeth, I just do not know where to begin.
    But in a nutshell, your party has been responsible for stripping schools and their education budgets down to the bone, driving teachers away, stressing children out, and now you tell us you’re going to put money back in – the very money you stripped away in the name of austerity which caused such irreparable damage. Your views on academies and free schools are insulting to so many – people have been striking and fighting and standing up against academisation all over our county, all of whom have done their homework and know that there is a sea of evidence to show the harm academisation can cause, not least financially. Tories have a way of justifying their actions to themselves and everyone else, but I’m not buying it. I do not know a single other teacher who would either.

    • Ren Reply

      I’m not Tory but the years of austerity were the result of Labour leaving the country close to being unable to service its colossal debts. I would have preferred a more Keynesian approach to the situation but the coalition continued the policies of Brown and Darling to try to prevent the UK going the way of Greece. Each of the three main parties had a hand in the situation.
      And not forgetting that Labour relaxed the banking rules in this country more than the government did in, say, Germany. Not that many Tories had a problem with that.
      As for academies, I care little whether a school is a free school, academy or any other type. I do care whether there’s some kind of local public accountability though. Maintained schools are answerable to the local authority although there is no reason not to develop a better model of accountability and governance for all schools, involving the local authority, parents and potential parents, staff and even students.
      And while Ofsted has its shortcomings, it is preferable to relying on local authorities to maintain and monitor schools. An external arbiter reduces the potential for a conflict of interest and a desire to protect the provider (the school) over the consumer (the children and their parents).

  2. Catherine Fisher Reply

    The figure Robert Nemeth quotes of 14 billion has been utterly discredited. It was described as “somewhere between meaningless and misleading” by the IFS. Analysis suggests that the majority of schools will continue to be worse off in 2020 than they were in 2015.

  3. Ingrid Laycock Reply

    Until last July the conservative government insisted that school funding was at its highest level ever and that there was no problem with school funding. Only when Boris Johnson realised that this is costing him votes, he announced a £14bn “boost” to education. The so-called boost is not even restoring funding levels from 2015. This is not credible.

    • Meg Lynn Reply

      So you would appear to prefer no ‘boost’ then but keep things as they are? That appears to be what you’re suggesting.

  4. Bored of Lies Reply

    The trouble is these politicians believe their own lies. On all sides they seem to live in some fantasy world where they are always 100% correct aand the other side 100% wrong.

    It is getting harder to pick the good politicians out from the ones who just talk the talk.

    Council or Government the same. And not matter which side they are standing for.

  5. Penny Hajduk Reply

    I’m pretty sure that “most parents” don’t consider Ofsted a reliable judge. Narrow criteria based on SATS and other figures. Parents judge a school by its proximity, and how happy their children are. Whether the teachers are communicative, and good at noticing things. We are not all slaves to statistics.

  6. Nihal Stic Reply

    “I think that an open mind should be kept when deciding what is best in any particular situation – ideology should be left at the school gate.” I agree with this 100% which is why i hate the market driven commercial ideological system which is currently in place which denies meritocracy by guaranteeing a preference to better facilities and class size to any one with substantial amounts of money.

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