Roke and a tale of “threats, bribes and fake consultations”

Lord Harris: carpet salesman turned educational carpet bagger

Lord Harris: carpet salesman turned educational carpet bagger

George Monbiot, the Guardian journalist who established and apologised to Lord McAlpine, has entered the row over Roke Primary in Kenley being handed over to a carpet salesman by education secretary Michael Gove.

In a coruscating piece criticising Gove’s blatant efforts to privatise the public education system, Mobiot cuts to the quick: “Public assets are being forcibly removed from popular control and handed to unelected oligarchs.”

In this case, the unelected oligarch is Tory party donor Lord Harris, who is being given Roke Primary for his Harris Federation private academy organisation by another unelected oligarch, Lord Nash, who also happens to be a Tory party donor and who is now working in the Department for Education.

Monbiot dislikes government use of jargon and double-speak, giving names to certain practices and actions to disguise and mislead what they really mean.

Thus, he explains what an “academy” and a “sponsor” really means in Gove’s DfE: “All over England, schools are being obliged to become academies: supposedly autonomous bodies which are often “sponsored” (the government’s euphemism for controlled) by foundations established by exceedingly rich people.”

And then he really lays on the line what is facing the parents, pupils, governors and staff at schools like Roke Primary: “The break-up of the education system in this country, like the dismantling of the NHS, reflects no widespread public demand. It is imposed, through threats, bribes and fake consultations, from on high.”

This very important piece, rich with the background detail of how the DfE operates under Gove (PPS: Gavin “I’m just a bag-carrier” Barwell, Croydon Central’s MP), and is a must-read for anyone interested in education, as rumours continue to swirl around the status and plans for at least four local schools, secondary as well as primary, and how they may yet be made academies, with Harris sniffing after the juiciest public assets.

And for our archive of Roke coverage:

  • Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon – 253,473 page views Sep 2012-Feb 2013
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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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