Thursday, 28 October 2010

Charity starts at home

Michael Gove's big plan for schools is to take them away from elected authorities so they can be run at a profit by management companies, letting them filter out unwanted students, while teachers, teaching assistants and cleaning staff etc. have their salaries cut. Oh, and the schools are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, and parents won't have any oversight rights.

Obviously, this hasn't gone down very well amongst parents, teachers, cleaners, local authorities etc. So he needs some help to make it look like a good idea.

Who has he asked to help out? Well, he's given the £500,000 contract to the New Schools Network. Without, rather naughtily, advertising the job to anyone or putting it out to tender. Who are they, you might ask?

Oddly enough, it's run by Rachel Wolf. Eh? Who? Conveniently, this 25-year old (wow, she must be highly experienced) is… Michael Gove's 'special adviser', i.e. convivial party hack (and mummy's been given a little job too). She also worked for Boris Johnson, attended private school, and went to Cambridge. She's got a BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences, before you ask. Educational qualifications? No. Postgraduate expertise? 'Fraid not. Pedagogical theory? Second-hand, at best.

So obviously she's got the perfect background to understand the needs and challenges of state schools. She won't be edging them all towards privatisation at all. Perish the thought.

A 'classic swing voter', apparently. 

Nobody knows where the rest of her 'independent organisation's' money comes from because she's keeping it secret. What's the betting it's from Tory donors and private education firms?

she abandoned thoughts of postgraduate study and went back-packing with friends to Mexico. While there, she received a job alert from the university careers service for a research post with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, wrote the required two essays – one on higher education, one on the Taj Mahal – danced all night in a Cancun club, caught an overnight flight home, was interviewed two hours after she landed and got the job. "From then on, I got sucked in," she says.
That job led to working on Johnson's mayoral campaign, and to helping Michael Gove shape the Tories' education policy. However, she insists she is not at all political, and would never take money from any political party for her New Schools Network."I am your classic centrist swing voter," she says. "Although the Tory Party is now something I could support – not surprising, really, since I wrote lots of the policies."
How very convincing. So she's had a year abroad and then 'advised' a couple of Tories about a school system she's never experienced. As for being a swing voter: she may have been 18 and eligible to vote by May 2005, so at most she's voted in 2 General Elections, so it seems unlikely that she's swung very hard or far. What an intellectual she is…

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