At last our schools will be “set free” by George Osborne. They’ll be “free from local bureaucracy”, no longer run by councils but governed instead by academies, such as the one set up by carpet millionaire Lord Harris. It seems incredible that up until now, no one has taken the obvious step of handing over our entire education system to carpet millionaires.
To start with, carpet millionaires are so much more accountable than local councils. At least we get to vote for carpet millionaires in the annual carpet millionaire elections, in which Lord Harris stands against John Lewis and Ted who goes door-to-door selling rolled up mats he swiped from a warehouse in Luton.
Up until now, the law has stated that parents should be “consulted” about a school becoming an academy. Now that consultation has been done away with, ridding us of another layer of bureaucracy, because there’s nothing more annoying when someone wants to make a massive change to your child’s life than some bureaucrat who wastes time asking for your opinion. You don’t see child traffickers faffing around like that; that’s why they get things done.
Once a school becomes an academy, it’s free to run as it pleases, setting rates of pay, employing non-qualified teachers or – as some academies have proposed – inviting businesses such as Apple to set up a store inside the school. This makes a school truly free, because instead of being stifled by a local council, your child’s life will be controlled by a kindly, multinational, predatory global corporation.
And there’s never a hint of bureaucracy with Apple, who sometimes wait as long as four days before bringing out a new model with new sockets that render everything you bought last week obsolete and useless. That’s because they care.
Another way the academy system can fight bureaucracy is by paying consultants. For example, the Griffin Schools Trust paid £800,000 to an education consulting company, because it’s important to take advice on how to eliminate expensive bureaucracy. And to make absolutely certain the Griffin Schools Trust was receiving the best possible advice, £700,000 of the money was paid to a company owned by the same people that ran the Griffin Schools Trust. The money was apparently initially to repay work done by those people to set up the school and later in lieu of their salaries, but all the same, it’s best to take advice off someone you trust – and who do you trust better than yourself? You don’t get innovative measures like that taken in schools run by a stodgy old local authority.
Academies, it is claimed, produce higher exam results, but schools that have been compelled to become academies have a worse record than schools that have remained as part of the local authority. More than 1,000 teachers working at the Harris chain of schools left within three years, resulting in some students being left for entire lessons without teachers, even in their GCSE years. This shows how far the Government is committed to its brave, hippie vision of setting kids free from bureaucracy.
Soon Osborne will announce the next stage, yelling: “Don’t let maths teachers control your thoughts by telling you what numbers to write down, man, set yourself free of their bureaucracy with our teacherless academies, where you can think of whatever number turns you on.”
Then the Government can get on with reducing bureaucracy everywhere. They can shut down cardiac units in hospitals, setting victims of heart attacks free of the health authority, so instead of being forced to be stretchered around by a paramedic they’ll receive a £30 voucher to spend however they like, on a non-qualified doctor or a priest, or if they prefer on a giant bucket of chicken nuggets if they manage to pull through by themselves. At last they’ll have the choice.
The last dribbles of social housing can be sold to developers, setting tenants free from local bureaucracy, giving them the choice of which park to sleep in, rather than be constrained by the red tape of owning a key.
The Chancellor has become such a free spirit that, when asked why he’s missed all the economic targets he set himself, he answered: “The important thing is we set out to achieve those targets.” That’s a beautiful, non-elitist, inclusive attitude – it doesn’t matter if any of us achieve our targets, as long as we set out to achieve them.
Maybe this loving vibe will be adopted at the Olympics and, instead of only the “winner” getting a gold medal, everyone who set out to do well gets one, including Mr Tidbury from Worthing who set himself a target of winning the 200m butterfly but never learned to swim, as he popped in the bookies on the way to the pool instead.
When Osborne was asked again about the missing his targets, he said: “I’m the first Chancellor to be independently assessed.” You can’t tie Osborne down with the bureaucracy of an answer that vaguely pertains to the question. He’s set himself free and answers whatever question he likes. When he was asked again, I thought he’d say “Alpha Centauri” or “Sir Stanley Matthews.”
Instead he settled for: “I’m the first Chancellor to look at what we spend on welfare.” What a revelation, that supposedly when Denis Healey was Chancellor he used to say, “I haven’t got time to bother with what we spend on welfare, I’m the Chancellor.”
But this is a Chancellor who’s opened his mind, so every aspect of our lives – even schools – is no longer run with the old bureaucratic sense of co-operation (such as the NHS, which nobody likes), but with the free market business model, such as the banks. In recent years they have proved to be so much more reliable, efficient and free.
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