Tonight's BBC2 experiment in winding up the entire professional educational class of the UK to vein-popping rage apparently (I've not seen it all) contains yet another breathtaking nugget that reinforces the impression that the Liberal Democrats and by extension the whole country are being seriously taken for a ride. Toby 'No Site, No Sweat' Young, aka Mr. Potato Head, aka (increasingly commonly) 'that bell end' apparently visited David Cameron personally to put his case for his vapourware free school. The idea that 'free schools' are therefore grassroots, local initiatives, always rather shaky, is thus completely busted - in truth they're now confirmed as what we always thought: an exercise in centrally dispensed patronage, funded by the taxpayer's money, taken from the budgets of schools run by professionals and accountable locally. Nick Clegg, of all people, has already been accused of being economical with what Toby would doubtless want us to call the 'veritas' on this issue:
His second tactic is a familiar one for Clegg-watchers. He made a statement filled with outrage; emphatic disgust at the merest suggestion that any policy under his watch would be infused with anything other than absolute, undeniable, self-evident fairness. He coupled this with a falsehood, made up on the spot. He said this (yesterday, on Channel 4 News):
“It [the free school policy] won’t be taking resources, and people and attention away from [current] schools.”
Houston – or New York, or wherever he is – we have a problem. We actually know for a fact that free schools will divert resources away from schools. We know this for the simple reason that this has happened already, even before a single free school has been set up. It says so on the press release from the Department for Education – money has been cut from technology budgets, that was due to spent in a school near you, this very year, and has been re-allocated to the something called the ‘Standards and Diversity Fund’ in order to support the development of free schools.
Why does the leader of the Liberal Democrats feel it necessary to make shit up to cover for a policy whose main cheerleader has repeatedly criticised the local Liberal Democrats for having the temerity to stand up for their principles?
Another snippet - Toby apparently accuses the local state school's teachers of failing their students, presumably by failing to teach them Latin. It's perhaps not surprising that he's having to be fairly relaxed about teaching qualifications - who on earth would want to teach under someone with that sort of attitude when there are proper schools around?
(Do search Twitter for 'Toby Young' - I've never seen one man have quite so much stick, repeated quite so often)