Saturday, March 02, 2013

Free Schools in London & Mayor Education enquiry

This is a speech that I made as an UNISON delegate to the London Labour Party Biannual conference last month.

"Conference, the mover has already spoken about this ideologically driven threat by Gove and Boris to education in London and its democratic deficit.

But it is not only that the principles behind so called "Free Schools" are wrong. We must also oppose this latest privatisation of key public services, because it is yet another example of turning accountable and transparent bodies, responsible for huge amounts of public money, into what often becomes self selecting oligarchies and "mates clubs".

Whose senior management teams first task is to award themselves a massive pay increase while at the same time they contract out the jobs of UNISON members; the cleaners, the cooks and the school caretakers onto poverty wages, with no protection if they become sick and no pensions, so they retire and die in poverty.

Free schools epitomise much that is wrong with our society under this Tory Government. Instead of a planned, accountable and joined up approach to running essential public services, we have a selfish and divisive route, driven in many cases but not all, by simple greed and the wish to enrich themselves at the expense of those ordinary working people, the UNISON members who clean their offices, cook their school meals and unblock their office toilets; the people who they consider to be their serfs.

Conference, let us also make sure that while opposing Free Schools we also make sure that our own house is in order. Can all of you here, who like me are school governors, make sure that at your next Governor meeting, that all the workers in your school, are on decent nationally agreed terms and conditions or their equivalent. Not only a living wage, but living sickness benefits and living pensions for all who work in your school.

Conference, please support this motion. (I then had to rush off to another commitment. The motion was passed)

Picture of 100 Sefton school staff left high and dry by a Free school.
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