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Bye, Bye, Mr Balls

May 15, 2010

One of the difficulties with the education bureaucracy is identifying who is to blame. Politicians can pass laws that say one thing, and something else can result entirely. For example, David Blunkett’s legislation on inclusion made it clear that it should not be used to keep badly behaved children in school, and yet that is exactly what happened.

So I have hesitated to blame too much on individual education secretaries. Since Blunkett, most of them have been in office for such a short time that it is not surprising they did no good.

However, Ed Balls, is an exception. He left office after almost (but not quite) three years.

He has no excuses.

He is responsible for:

  • The introduction (with extensive government money) of Assessing Pupil Progress, a barely tested, ever-changing scheme of assessment , based on a belief in bureaucracy and basic  confusion between formative and summative assessment.
  • Accepting the claims of the Steer Report (which stated that serious misbehaviour in schools is rare).
  • The removal of “Education” from the name of the department running schools and the continuing disastrous attempts to combine education and children’s services into one incompetent bureaucracy.
  • Ignoring the evidence from the government’s own research that support from teaching assistants harms the progress of students with SEN.
  • Supporting SEAL and attempts to replace education with socialisation.
  • Introducing constant curriculum changes (even more than usual), including such highlights as new Diplomas and Functional Skills.
  • Attempts to increase the burden of the SEN bureaucracy.
  • Allowing OFSTED to fail some of the most successful schools in the country.
  • Continuing to allow schools to spend money on gimmicks, even after admitting that Brain Gym was pointless.
  • Blaming schools, rather than his own policies, for stressing children out with tests.

I had hoped that regardless of the election result he would cease to be in charge of the nation’s schools. But now he’s left office I have something greater to be worried about. I’m considerably more worried that there are people out there, who would have him as leader of the opposition, and, potentially, prime minister.

Enough is enough. The man could not run one department successfully, don’t let him run Her Majesty’s Opposition.

Or to put it another way: Don’t make me vote Tory.

Update: I have decided to set up a Facebook group for people who feel the same way about this. Anybody has anything to contribute (like say a picture suitable for the group) please help. I can’t help but notice there’s only 23 people in the facebook group in favour of him becoming Labour leader.

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9 comments

  1. When the Labour party started to talk about an ‘anti-Conservative alliance’ with the Lib Dems it was the thought of having Ed Balls as Prime Minister which made me hide from the news for two days. Thank goodness he didn’t get the chance.(Yet?)


  2. surely to goodness its not possible to have a “Prime Mister Balls”

    even worse were he to have had a Deputy in the form of the late Robin Cook.

    the juvenile amongst you will be able to work it out.


  3. While we are on the subject of blame…

    I have recently started a post in a primary school in a very deprived area, and I have witnessed some of the most shocking behaviour in children as young as five. The common factor with the serious offenders does however seem to be AWFUL PARENTS. We are talking base, scum of the Earth, downright good-for-nothing mouth breathing knuckle dragging idiots who daily undo any good we could do for their children and contaminate their lives with their toxic being. Whereas I fully understand that behaviour is a massive problem, and we need to address the deliberately disruptive choices that many children make, there needs to be a deterrent in place for being a woefully atrocious parent. Should it not be regarded as criminal negligence?


    • I don’t mean to defend awful parents, but part of the motivation for setting up state schooling was to deal with the problem of out of control children whose parents took no responsibility for them. Schools were meant to help restore order in those communities. Something has gone wrong if we are now expecting those failed parents to help restore order in schools.


      • “..part of the motivation for setting up state schooling was to deal with the problem of out of control children whose parents took no responsibility for them. Schools were meant to help restore order in those communities.”

        Nonsense. The 1870 Elementary Education Act was motivated by the need for an educated populace, whether for industrial, military or political reasons. If you want control call the police.

        “Something has gone wrong if we are now expecting those failed parents to help restore order in schools.”

        Maybe we should take away their votes as well in case they elect a “failed” government.


        • I’m not sure what has confused you about the words “part of”, nor why you think that the 1870 Elementary Education Act alone accounts for “the setting up of state schooling”.

          And who was suggesting taking anything away from anybody?


      • I fully agree with your point, but when we consider the fact that schools (or at least this school) are practically impotent when faced with the most extreme behavioural difficulties, and exclusion is so appalingly difficult to secure, it is little wonder that behaviour would worsen significantly. It seems that “the parent is always right” is a maxim for our school.

        If we can prove that a parent has been irresponsible or negligent, should that parent then lose the right to question the school’s decisions on how to deal with their child? I’m not asking that parents be forced to help restore order in schools, only that those parents whose poor parenting led to order being eroded be excluded from any right to call schools to account.


        • I’d agree with that. All I was really getting at is that it is not just a problem of bad parenting, it’s how schools react to it.


  4. absolutely.
    im no fan of any political party but actually there are laws on the side of the teacher but not everyone realises.

    for example did you know you can use moderate force to prevent a child disrupting education/harming themselves or others.

    did you know schools can take out court orders against parents for child truancy(about 20 odd have happened so far)

    did you know schools can take out court orders for parents failing to ensure their child behaves at school? (precisley zero issued thus far)

    did you know you can confiscate phones for months if you so choose?

    did you know schools can issue after school detentions, with 24 h notice WITHOUT parental consent?

    the machinary is there to support schools. for schools that apply a simple, fair, transparent system children and teachers thrive.

    If you have to exclude 15 kids in one week so be it- eventually the culture will change. MAKE parents back down. If they threaten vilolence, ban them from the school site, inform the police and take out a court order if their kids dont behave.

    simple really. just takes a bit of guts.

    note this does not take money. pouring lots of cash into education doesnt work….much.

    its not acceptable that bad parents ruin so many lives… or that we allow them to do that.



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