Thursday, February 06, 2014

Why David Laws is right and Michael Gove is wrong

Yesterday I wrote about the dispute between David Laws and Michael Gove over whether Ofsted should inspect chains of free schools as well as individual free schools.

It should, of course. And I say that as a supporter of free schools.

A little of the philosophical basis of my views was given in a review of the social liberal collection Reinventing the State that I wrote for the Guardian website when the book came out in 2007.

There I wrote:
Chris Huhne offers a more promising approach, arguing that the British state fails to deliver because it is so centralised. People who fear that localism will increase inequality are wrong, he says, precisely because the current set-up is so bad at delivering social justice. 
Lib Dem activists will hope he is right. They like localism in theory, but fears of postcode lotteries and two-tier systems have launched a thousand local press releases. 
And they will appreciate the way Huhne's vision of a rich diversity of local provision contrasts with the Tory idea of popular schools taking over the rest: "It's been a good half for the school: the match with Harrow was won, and St Custard's was purchased through a leveraged buy out."
And I fear that a buy out of St Custard's is just what Michael Gove wants. So he does not want Ofsted getting in the way of it by pointing out that the chain doing the buying does not provide its pupils with a good education.

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