Grammars: The Reverse Ferret Begins

Back in July I wrote a blog about how Gove’s destruction of the locally accountable state education system and its replacement with a market-based system of private firms contracted to the DFE, would lead directly to the return of selection. Perhaps unwittingly (although I am in no way as convinced of Gove’s principled opposition to grammars as his fans are), he had prepared the ground for selection to be reintroduced without having to change the law, via the private edubusinesses often referred to as ‘academy chains’. I was immediately howled down by furious Govians, who were genuinely outraged that I dared to ascribe responsibility for this to their hero, and who were in absolute denial about how the market Gove built would facilitate this. Indeed, I was told categorically by one ex-Gove advisor that MATs couldn’t do this, as it would require a change to the law. Right. So having been proved correct (rather faster than I expected), I thought I’d make a return to the prediction game, to see if I can help shine a light into the sewer which our education policy is fast disappearing down.

I can now attest to the fact that “It gives me no pleasure to be proved right” is simply not true. But I’m not writing this simply to gloat. After all, unlike many Govians, I am actually opposed to selection, as opposed to being in the habit of pretending to oppose selection right up until the point when that pretence is no longer important for my career prospects. However, as a teacher, bright spots in education policy are few and far between under this government of thickos, weirdos and, er, throwback-os. So I’ll take the brief pleasure of gloating for now, thanks.

The predictions are at the bottom. But before we go there, I’m just going to vent my spleen a little. And I’m going to vent it at Gove’s fellow-travellers who either are, or profess to be, of the left, in a way which is so bilious that readers will need the sort of apron used in autopsies. If you don’t really want to experience that particular foghorn blast of rage, I’ve put it in a different font, so that you can skip it (I’m so considerate in my offensiveness – it’s like a “safe space” within a blog. I should patent this process). So just note the picture below, and then skip to the predictions bullets now.

and-we-call-those-people-useful-idiots-former-kgb-yuri-1536817Dominic Cummings lectures future SPADs on how to gain support for evil policies

What I would say to those Govians, who are left genuinely upset by the betrayal of their faith in Tory policies, is this: what, in the bowels of Christ, did you think the Tory Party was? They’ve only had two historical nicknames. One, as long ago as the 19th Century, was “The Stupid Party”, and the other, coined by none other than their own bloody leader, is “The Nasty Party”. This is not an organisation in which you should place your trust if you are genuinely seeking to help disadvantaged children. The clue’s in the bloody names!

For those who have long laughably claimed to be on the left, even Labour supporters, yet who have been fellow travellers with Gove and his market reforms, I have a further series of questions: did you truly not realise you were in bed with a dishonest Ayn-Randian ideologue, who was so dependent upon a genuine psychopath as his closest advisor that he probably sacrificed his entire career rather than be separated from the swivel-eyed loon? Did you get so caught up in writing pompous thinkpieces about how not all Tories are selfish, stupid and evil that you forgot to note that, in fact, he was? Or did you just not care, because you were personally doing rather nicely out of his reforms? Are you actually a Conservative still in denial about the fact because you know all your friends would be appalled to know of your Tory leanings, so you pretend to be radical, despite signing up to every Conservative orthodoxy, like one of those sad middle-aged Jeremy Clarkson-esque blokes who thinks he’s a bit edgy because he once owned a Stone Roses album at university?

Those people who claimed LEAs played no valuable role worth defending? It’s your fault. Those people who said “structures don’t matter”? It’s your fault too (has anyone else noticed that whenever someone says “structures don’t matter”, they’re always those who fundamentally support academisation? You don’t think? Well next time one says “structures don’t matter”, point out that, in that case, they’ll have no objection to a return to locally accountable schools in LEAs, because structures don’t matter, right? Watch their faces) . Those people who pushed the myth that the most important determinant of outcomes is the personal effort of teachers and children? It’s also your fault.

You became a cheerleader for a man who is a demonstrable liar, in a Party which elevates dishonesty and corruption into an Olympic event. You supported policies which pushed an obvious agenda of privatisation, profession-breaking, and pork barrel donations to well-connected charlatans, by refusing to see through the laughably gossamer-thin veil made up of empty platitudes about “standards” which they kept wafting in front of your credulous eyes. And now we have grammar schools returning, and no way of stopping them. While I’m at it, you’re also to blame for Moynihan’s £400k graft, Durand Academy, the corruption at Perry Beeches, the jail sentences for the crooks at Kings Science Academy, and frankly, if I could find a way of linking you to St Helens’ criminally denied try in the play-off semi this week, I would.

Look around you. You see those people you thought were similarly enlightened campaigners for “the kidz”, fighting alongside you against the bigotry of low expectations and all that other posturing guff which was always more about your self-image as one of the chosen Elect than anything real? Well look at them now. See how that ‘principled opposition’ to selection seems to be getting quieter? You see how they’re already discussing how some kinds of selection wouldn’t be too bad? And how about the man himself. Remember his passionate opposition to selection? Remember how you believed that this was a man worth following? Oops!

You poor deluded sap. I hope you’re feeling as shamed and stupid as a naked drunk waking up in bed with a tired-looking pig’s head. You were played for mugs, and you were mugs. I have previously likened my blog repeatedly to throwing pebbles at a panzer. But I’d rather have made that ultimately futile gesture of resistance than have been the fig leaf covering Gove’s bollocks as he privatised our education system and created the conditions for some anachronistic authoritarian throwback of a PM to bring back selection.

So, skipping lightly over the spittle-flecked finger-jabbing, I’m now going to predict what will happen going forward. You can hold me accountable for these predictions next year. Which is a damn sight more accountability than you’ll ever get from a Multi-Academy Trust.

Those predictions in full:

  • The big MATs will very soon go quiet on their supposed opposition to selection, as they race to establish grammars. A few have expressed “doubts”. But given the evidence against grammars, that’s a bit like expressing a “doubt” over whether jumping off Beachy Head is a good idea. A man expressing “doubts”, rather than stating outright opposition, is leaving wriggle room to change his stance. Draw your own conclusions.


  • The bigger MATs will go for this with unseemly speed. Partly to get the cash, and partly to avoid being the suckers who end up with the secondary moderns, while some other bugger gets to brand themselves as the elite grammar chain. I’d expect them to be much keener on establishing their new grammars away from their existing franchises, so that they don’t take the brighter kids away from their own branches. You might find Harris trying to open a grammar franchise in an ARK area, I suppose. However, given the cosy cartel the donors operate in the really big chains, I expect they’ll avoid that sort of competition.


  • The grammars introduced by the big MATs probably won’t be called “grammars”. They’ll be called “Centres of Excellence”, or some similar shitehawk re-branding, and it’ll be announced that all kids in the MAT could go there at any time, so they’re not really grammars. Except, of course, all kids won’t go there. It’ll be the same kids, over and over. Because they’ll be grammars.


  • The new head of Ofsted, recently cheered to the rafters by the Govians, will be much quieter than Wilshaw on grammars.


  • May doesn’t want to go to Parliament on this, as she’d probably lose in the Commons, and would be even more likely to lose in the Lords. That’s why she’s going down the MAT route. Expect a large bribe in the next budget, to encourage the private businesses to establish “Centres of Excellence” either as a new Free School franchise, or just a re-branding of an existing franchise. There’s always cash for Ministerial whim in education. Just not for teaching assistants or textbooks. Or, you know, anything actually useful.


  • “Leaders” of the MATs will do their reverse ferret, after years of posing as champions of equal access to education, by saying that they’d opposed the old grammar school models, but after consultations with the Government, and with their superduper new “Centre of Excellence (Not a Grammar, Honest!)” model, they’ll avoid all those pitfalls of traditional grammars.

reverse%20ferretA MAT CEO looks back: “Hmm, I know I said grammars were bad, but….”

  • That collection of hardened Govians, shysters and dodgy rich people in “PATE”, currently pretending to be a “grassroots” organisation (representing the “grassroots” of rich edubusinessmen, weirdo right-wing millionaires, shadowy Thatcherite thinktanks and Tory donors, as far as I can see), will become the new figleaf for this bollocks. The DFE will make a show of consulting them, and they’ll announce that the “grassroots” have been satisfied by the DFE’s concessions, and so will now fully support the policy.


  • A lot of parents will be appalled to discover that all their child’s cleverer friends are being bussed away, and replaced with not-so clever kids from further away. Some will be even more appalled to find their own child deemed not clever enough for the new Centre of Excellence, and bussed away to the Centre of The Undeserving, some miles away. They’ll complain to the LEA. The LEA will shrug, and say “nothing we can do – it’s a private company. We have no say over this at all”. So the parents will complain to the Head, and the Head will say “nothing I can do – the head office say this has to happen, and I’m hoping to get a executive office and a clipboard one day, so screw you.” So they’ll complain to the parent governor. Except they won’t, because the private MAT got rid of parent governors. And then replaced the governing body with the owner, his wife, and a couple of those nice people they met on David Hoare’s yacht near the Isle of Wight. So the distressed parents will write a letter to the local paper, and some unctuous twat will doubtless write back saying “it’s not structures which matter, it’s “standards””.


  • Moynihan will still take the best part of half a million quid for himself, out of the taxes we pay for our children’s education, while he collaborates with a government policy which will screw up that education for the majority of kids. The greedy, immoral, bastard.


  • I’ll be back next year to tell you “I told you so”. Again.








12 thoughts on “Grammars: The Reverse Ferret Begins

  1. Always up for a good rant on a Saturday morning 😉 Yes I can see the future panning out as you have illustrated above – and like you – it causes me grief and concern but as you say when the ball was set rolling into the privatisation of education then the other tenets of the market (choice, price differentiation etc…) were bound to follow.


  2. For nearly six years – since 7 December 2010 to be precise – I’ve been publicising the many untruths spouted by Gove. But he’s been treated by sections of the media, high-profile free school advocates, supportive heads who were rewarded with gongs for their (pause to puke) ‘services to education’, sycophantic bloggers, fellow-traveller think tanks, those Labour politicians who promoted deception about academies from their inception and trustees of rapidly-expanding academy chains as someone only slightly less than God. His Word could Not be Doubted. The Tory party and its LibDem chums ran with it. And the Daily Mail couldn’t have been more fulsome in their adulation if he’d been the Messiah returned.
    Gove was a mixture of the Sorcerers’ Apprentice and the Emperor with No Clothes. Every time he said he was offering schools freedom, he was actually tying them in chains. Every time he said his policy were evidence-based, it was a concoction of cherry-picked quotes out of context. And every time he said he didn’t want to become leader because he wasn’t worthy, he was actually showing how desperate he was for the top job.
    In one thing, though, he has been a success: the dismantling of the English education system. And education (real education, that is, not the narrow spoon-feeding measured by tests) will be far worse for it.


  3. in my ignorance I had to look up who Ayn Rand was in order to understand one of the comments. She sounds a right little charmer and as i’m reading the site up comes an advert for a book that advocates the complete abolishment of all state education systems and leaving it all to the market. we live in scary times at the moment. how is your search for a new employment going?


    • I’m not currently looking for new employment Charlie. I’m just emerging from the maelstrom of moving the family out of London to a very different place, and thinking about doing a bit of writing before looking for a job again.

      I’m enjoying the experience of not constantly feeling that there’s always something else I should be doing, which has been pretty much my constant companion since becoming a teacher!


  4. The correct response to anyone who makes a case for grammars/secondary moderns or any other rebranding of a two-tier selective education system who says (usually after eating something delicious and seasonal from a Nigel Slater book) “I mean, not EVERY kid is suited to a traditional, academic curriculum” is…”I bet yours are though, aren’t they?”


  5. Just got round to reading this now. Absolute perfection. Like you, I saw this coming years ago and bailed. Got out in 2015. I couldn’t bear to be co-opted by this. The balance between doing it for the kids and feeling like I was helping to make a crooked and iniquitous system work, finally tipped too far.

    Liked by 1 person

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