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Outrage at school gates – can would-be PM solve it?

11 July, 2019

Boris Johnson

IT is not only the United States ambassador who is feeling the brunt of our topsy-turvy politics.

Sir Kim Darroch resigned after being thrown under a bus this week by Boris Johnson, who looks likely to be appointed the next Prime Minister after 160,000 Conservative Party members cast their votes.

Enhanced presidential powers have been allowed to develop in our political system over the last 30-odd years. Where has our independence gone?

Education is at the sharp end of this kind of elective dictatorship. This week we see the impact of the Department for Education imposing a school on Camden.

Governors from six primary schools have spoken out against the Abacus project.

Camden’s schools chief, Angela Mason, appears to agree. She warns that the council has a “limited amount of control in this whole situation”.

The school, rated outstanding by Ofsted, was set up to provide much-needed places for school children in Belsize Park.

Around 2010 this was a pressing issue, with the council admitting it had a problem. As the governors of schools in NW3 point out, this is no longer the case.

The governors’ concern is about a scramble for funding that is directly linked to pupil numbers.

Camden schools are struggling to fill the places – and with that struggle comes a real threat to their survival.

Abacus appears to be permanently trapped in an Kafkaesque educational limbo, unable to move out of temporary premises in King’s Cross that its operators never intended to move into in the first place. More scandalous, perhaps, is the home bought for them for £14million, Hampstead police station, has sat empty throughout the dispute. The station – a landmark of Hampstead – fell victim of Mr Johnson’s brutal cuts to the Metropolitan Police force in 2013.

The government appears at sixes and sevens.

On the one hand it appears able to spare no expense in setting up what is said to be the most expensive primary school project in the country in a plainly unsuitable building and an area where there is no need for a new school. On the other hand, local authority schools across the borough are suffering the worst cuts in living memory. Long-serving teaching assistants are leaving and not being replaced. There is outrage building at the school gates.

The issue of education funding is fundamental. It affects people in later life. Those who endured a poor education before the progressive Labour reforms of the late 1940s took effect, are still suffering today. It leads to so many disasters.

Few would back Mr Johnson to take charge of this.

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