Sarah Teather has taken so many U-turns that she’s tied herself in a knot

I am really confused about what our MP believes in anymore. Before the election, she expressed concerns about taking power away from local authorities with regards to school education.

She told the BBC, “Unless you give local authorities that power to plan and unless you actually make sure that there is money available… it’s just a gimmick.”

However, today I’m reading in the Guardian that her Partner in crime, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove is proposing direct management of state schools funding.

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National Union of Teachers ConDemn Sarah Teather’s stance on ‘Free Schools’

Following the Lib Dems’ rebuttal of Sarah Teather’s Education policy yesterday (LINK), the National Union of Teachers has issued a comment on the ePolitix website saying:

“This debate has shown up the conflict between Liberal Democrat and Tory values. The fault line in the coalition government will clearly be on education policies and the importance of a fair education for all.

Academies and Free Schools are Tory policies and stand in direct opposition to previous Liberal Democrat thinking. Before the election we had Sarah Teather, triumphantly saying that the Liberal Democrats provided the only opposition to the academies project; and of the Free Schools programs that it was a shambles;, but where is her opposition now?”

National Union of Teachers

Sarah Teather’s Education proposals Con-Demned by her own Lib Dem Party members

The Liberal Democrats today gave their overwhelming backing to a campaign against the expansion of Sarah Teather’s Education policy on school academies and have called for a boycott of free schools in the strongest public show of concern by rank and file activists over the party’s role in Coalition Government. They called on all Lib Dems to actively “urge people not to take up the option” of creating the “free” schools championed by Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove and Brent Central MP and Education Minister Sarah Teather.

Teather branded it an “illiberal boycott” and according to the BBC, Teather pleaded to delegates “Don’t vote for a boycott, don’t tie councils’ hands.” However, Former Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris argued that it was not illiberal for Lib Dems to be allowed to campaign on issues they felt strongly about.”We must be free to fight the Tories at a local level up and down the country,” he said.

While Sarah Teather pleaded with members of her party to vote against the motion, her Department’s policy was ConDemned for treating pupils like tins of beans.

According to the Guardian, Lib Dem Councillor Peter Downes, who moved the motion said, “Just as the supermarket drives the corner shop out of business, so it will be with schools. When Sainsbury’s provides some new products to lure people away from their competitors, the unsold items in the failing shops can be returned to the wholesaler or sold off in a sale. But not so in schools. Pupils are human beings, not tins of beans.”

What the motion said:

F23. Free Schools and Academies

In relation to ‘free schools’, conference calls on all Liberal Democrats to urge people not to take up this option because it risks:

1.       Creating surplus places which is prejudicial to the efficient use of resources in an age of austerity.

2.       Increasing social divisiveness and inequity into a system which is already unfair because of the multiple tiers and types of schools created by successive Conservative and Labour governments and thus abandoning our key goal of a high quality education system for all learners.

3.       Depressing educational outcomes for pupils in general.

4.       Increasing the existing complexity of school admissions and exclusions.

5.       Putting at risk advances made in making appropriate provision for children with special needs.

6.       Putting in jeopardy the programme of improving school buildings.

7.       Wasting precious resources, both human and material, at a time when all efforts should be focused on improving educational outcomes by enabling effective teaching and learning to take place in good local schools accessible to all.

Point 6 is particularly interesting as it indicates that Lib Dem members want to ditch the ‘Free Schools’ policy and revert back to a scheme similar to Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme.

However, Sarah Teather responded “I will take into account what they say but it is not going to change government policy, because Government policy is formed by Government ministers,” Potentially rendering the whole episode entirely useless in terms of delivering change.

Meanwhile, out on the doorstep, resentment was strife among residents who had voted for Sarah Teather in May 2010. A former Labour supporter who voted for Teather said “I’m quite distraught because what I voted for was totally the opposite to what I got. I didn’t vote for a Tory Government basically and I will definitely be voting Labour next time.”

I imagine many who voted for a Lib Dem MP across the country will be doing the same.

Con Dem government signals shift from ‘Free Schools’ policy, back to BSF-esque programme.

Sarah Teather has in the Willesden and Brent Times pledged that schools will be able to reapply for a new school building with an announcement expected towards the end of the year.

Source: Guardian

The announcement signals a logical realisation that the Labour Party’s Building Schools for the Future programme was the correct route to follow with regards to Education policy. After a poor take up of schools going down the Teather and Gove ‘Free Schools’ route, the money that was there for the BSF scheme, as shown in this letter from Sarah Teather’s permanent secretary at the Education Department (LINK), which hasn’t been taken up by ‘free schools’, is available again for new school buildings.

In the meantime, the embarrassing U-turn dithering and realisation of this, will affect children in Brent now and in the immediate future.

Have just been reading Sarah Teather’s take on the Building Schools for the Future Programme in the Willesden and Brent Times….

Whoa whoa whoa… let me get this right… Sarah Teather blames the poor state of our school buildings in Brent on the Labour Party’s Building Schools for the Future Scheme? A scheme that would have provided better school buildings and rapidly expanded the amount of children that we could accommodate in our schools.

Her logic totally defies all notions of the phrase common sense – a scheme that would’ve brought more school places to our children that was scrapped by her Government is to blame for the shortage for school places we face in Brent.

Yes, pure political point scoring from Brent Central MP whilst children in the Borough inevitably suffer. In addition, Teather has announced that there will be a new fund available that schools in Brent will be able to apply for, with an announcement due towards the end of the year. This signals a move back to Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme. Except naturally, the Coalition Government will just call it something else so that they can take the credit for it as their own scheme.

In the meantime, the scale of the problem in our school buildings is highlighted by a recent incident at the Copland School where a light fell from the ceiling and hit a child. The delay in reverting back to Labour’s BSF programme is inevitably affecting children now.

Building Schools for the Future cut is a triple whammy for Brent

The scrapping of the revolutionary Building Schools for the Future programme serves as a triple whammy to the people of Brent and represents a false economy from Sarah Teather’s Education Department.

First and foremost, it is a cut aimed at the group in society who had no say in the election; children. Instead, the Lib Dem / Tory Coalition has rushed through the Academies Bill, advocating a ‘Free Schools’ policy aimed at schools already doing well and ignoring the issue of there being a shortage in school places in Brent, and fails to address the need to improve our failing schools. Every child should have the right and access to a decent standard of education in a respectable environment and the cuts will mean that children will continue to be educated in dilapidated buildings, unfit for the twenty-first century and that there will not be enough school places to meet the shortages.

Secondly, the building works programme provided an opportunity for stimulus in the building and construction trade. Many are still feeling the effects of the recession and the forthcoming VAT rise will increase the price of building materials, affecting profit margins and thereby adding greater financial pressure in the sector.

Thirdly, schools serve as community hubs. The scrappage deprives young people of decent standard activity centres. Schools buildings can be utilised by Local Authorities to provide after hour services for young people. Better standard building and halls also boost the commercial potential of the schools. Many local people use school halls for weddings and hire them out for private functions and parties.

The Education Department’s Permanent Secretary admitted in a letter to former Secretary of State Ed Balls, that the programme had Treasury approval and had not received any objections. We know there is money for our schools, after all, where will the money for the free schools policy come from?

Link to Article on LabourList