Gove clearly smelled blood following Labour’s schools policy announcement this morning, going for his opposite number Stephen Twigg: “Labour’s policy on free schools is so tortured they should send in the UN to end the suffering”. The problem? Here is Twigg this morning on free schools:
“Existing free schools will stay open, free schools in the pipeline will go ahead, but we will not have additional free schools.”
And then in the same speech:
“What we will have is a new academies programme including parent-led academies, really good teacher-led academies like Peter Hyman’s school in East London – those sorts of things. We would want the opportunity for those schools to open.”
What is the difference?
Awkwardly Peter Hyman, Twigg’s ‘teacher-led academy’ hero, has actually set up a free school of his own, and Andrew Adonis has today admitted that “free schools are academies”. Labour Education sources begrudgingly admitted to Guido that Adonis “is factually correct”. Or in other words, yes, they are the same. Labour say free schools and academies are legally identical, though point to details such as where the schools are set up, local community support and a focus on shortages as points of difference.
What is clear is that Labour have surrendered to Gove on the principle of schools policy, if not the minutiae of naming. Twigg can dress it up how he likes to placate ultra-conservative reform-hating unions, his ‘parent-led academies’ are free schools in all but name. Viva la revolucion…