SO, now that we know that the government has spiked a raft of Building Schools for the Future programmes in Camden, we are left with questions, questions.. Here’s a couple for starters:
i. Is the future of the UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage really for discussion- or is Education Secretary Michael Gove just being polite to the schools that have seen schemes crash by saying everything is at the very least under review? After announcing that he is keen to expand the academy programme begun by Labour, surely he wouldn’t pull a project which is meant to amount to a case-study example of academy school brilliance. It has a sweet sponsor in PR terms, and check out this website: www.uclacademy.com. It’s almost all in place already. A headteacher principal has been appointed, a decision on uniforms has even been taken, an ‘ethos’ has been prescribed, a house system created, the lot… This will be a heap of wasted effort if Mr Gove breaks the funding pipe. I don’t think he dare do it.
ii. What do Lib Dem and Conservative governors in Camden make of the shelved schemes at the schools they are involved with? Even if they didn’t play a major role in working up the BSF proposals for individual schools, and more likely they did, surely they have witnessed first hand the hard work by their governor colleagues – volunteers – on this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. Rightly or wrongly, all of that has now been spludged down the drain at the orders of their seniors. Just on a human level, for all the politicking about whose fault the smacked economy is, that must be an awkward one to reconcile at meetings. The disappointed faces around the table at the next get-together will be hard to stomach.
Yet, rank and file members of the parties involved in the coalition at Westminster shouldn’t feel like they have to go along with everything laid down by Cameron and Clegg. It’s ok, really ok to dislike a section of policy here or there, and still stay loyal to your party. In fact, people will admire local politicians more in the long run for picking and choosing the issues for combat, for saying: You know what, we do a bladdy good job but on this one we’ve got it wrong. Other blues and yellows have done that already elsewhere in the country on BSF.
And maybe Frank Dobson and Glenda Jackson’s longevity as Camden’s MPs are testament to that philosophy, that saying no to your own party is no bad thing when the issue is right. The make-up of Monday’s lobby of Parliament, with a strong Camden contingent, will be interesting: the campaign to fix the collective school roof needs cross party support. You never know. It might just get it yet.