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Primary Education News
News Ignore Michael Gove's propaganda: we don't need academies
A spelling mistake on a sign outside a state primary school had me banging my head in despair – but don't be panicked into thinking state education is fundamentally flawed
There's a notice on our local park gate, made by a local state primary-school pupil, saying: "There is know [sic] such thing as the poo fairy." What a good idea – a campaign to encourage the rubbish dog-owners among us to pick up their dogs' excrement. And what an attractive and eye-catching poster. But "KNOW poo fairy"? I wanted to bang my head against the railings. Why didn't teacher check the spelling before the notice was completed, laminated and displayed before the public?
Didn't he/she realise that not only is bad spelling a worry, but even worse – this is the sort of thing that could easily bring joy to Mr Gove's heart. Because it seems to prove him right. Ordinary state schools bad – academies good. And the country has fallen for his scam. Show the panicking parents one bad spelling from a non-academy school, suggesting that it's stuffed with wild, union-member, loopy-liberal staff, and they'll be scared stiff that their child will come out walking on all fours, and must be marched straight into an academy – an institution obsessed with exam results, image, suits, management and education gibberish, slyly selective, undemocratic, prone to "unofficial exclusion" with the odd cheat or tyrant in charge.
Don't fall for it, parents. Like thousands of teachers in state schools, and local authorities, you can care about children's education and standards of literacy and numeracy, you can even love Latin, without signing up to the Gove brigade. Just because he has pinpointed our terrors and recognised our dreams, it doesn't mean that he's right in all things. He just knows how to wind us up and what works in his favour.
"That 'know poo' teacher's scored an own goal," says Fielding, "and you're in a cleft stick here. You're caught between your nit-picking enthusiasm for accurate grammar, and your well-meaning, sentimental socialism." Even Fielding doesn't get it. You can have the two things together – high standards in comprehensives. We do not need academies.