Education chief to resign over school reforms

THE CHIEF education officer of Birmingham has decided to resign because he believes the Government's White Paper heralds years of uncertainty and confusion for schools.

David Hammond, 51, said that he, like other chief education officers, had spent the past three weeks studying Choice and Diversity, the 30,000-word set of policy proposals which ministers hope will provide the map for the next 25 years of education reform.

He concluded that 'the White Paper is neither a clear strategic statement of the Government's vision of the education service for the future, nor is it a clear rejection of the past'. Instead, 'what we are offered is something which the Government calls 'evolution', but which I believe is really going to be a divisive and protracted series of confusions'.

Mr Hammond added: 'The White Paper is really talking about withering and dithering.'

John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, is on holiday, but he is hardly likely to feel dismay. When the White Paper was launched he described Birmingham - England's largest education authority - as the worst in the country and attacked the Labour group's willingness to spend pounds 50m less on schools than the Government believes it should.

Ministers say in the White Paper that they would like all schools to opt out of local authority control eventually, but they leave it to parental ballots at each individual school to decide.

Schools which opt out will be funded directly by a national Funding Agency - but many may opt to stay with the local authority. If schools are deemed by inspectors to be failing, the local authority will be expected to try and turn them around - but if that fails, they may then be taken over by Education Associations.

Mr Hammond said: 'We may face a situation in which, in some local authority areas, we have the Funding Agency, Education Associations, and the local authority, all maintaining schools. I have to ask myself, having served for nearly 20 years with the local education authority, whether I want to be part of that.'

He has told the council that he will stay on to carry out a review of the White Paper's implications for the city, but he will not renew his contract next March.

'I have been maintaining a system which, for all its achievements and failures, has at least been subject to a local democratic process. People can hold my chairman, or even me, to account. That will go.

'But, even if I thought that a nationalised education service was a good thing, I cannot see that it has been spelt out clearly in the White Paper. I can actually conceive of it being possible to have a 'small is beautiful' approach, with little communities of schools running themselves according to parental opinion. But I don't actually get that.'

There were aspects of the White Paper which he found encouraging: the Government's decision to strengthen support for children with special education, for example. But ministers had apparently decided that everything which did not fit in easily with community-run schooling - tackling truancy, for example - would be left with the local authority.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Advisors

£14564 - £15311 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Adviso...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific