Commenting on the report, Putting Students and Parents First by David Blunkett MP, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:


“The interests of children and young people have suffered as a consequence of an ideological obsession on structural reforms and a desire to create a free market in education.


“All children and young people, regardless of where they live or learn, should be entitled to access a broad and balanced education which ensures high standards.


“However, the Coalition Government’s structural reforms have weakened democratic accountability and handed more power to remote education providers at the expense of parents and local communities.


“Serious fault lines have now appeared across the education landscape which mean that children’s entitlement to a local school place, fair admissions, a national curriculum and to be taught by qualified teachers are at the mercy of individual education providers.


“The Blunkett Review indicates that whilst there is waste and inefficiency in the system, it can be tackled through regulation, effective accountability and better local strategic coordination of education.


“Properly constituted Directors of Schools Standards, working alongside reinvigorated local authorities, could provide a template for strengthening local partnership working and stakeholder engagement.


“A system of kite-marking of education providers is a further interesting proposal which merits attention as a basis for driving out exploitative and profiteering practices which are diverting valuable resources away from teaching and learning in the interests of maximising the profits of private companies.


“A stronger School Admissions Code must also be properly enforced, and proposals to do so are a step in the right direction in ensuring fair access to a school place for all children and young people, regardless of background or family income.


“Nevertheless, the Blunkett Review report will raise some issues that will provoke debate, if not controversy.


“One example is the proposal to allow groups of schools to be “floated off” to new sponsors which could damage the balance of local school provision if implemented without careful consideration. The devil will be in the detail.


“However, it is important that the fundamental flaws in the current system are tackled and that whatever structural arrangements apply in future are capable of delivering a fair, equitable and rational basis for schools to operate.


“The impact of the Blunkett Review will depend on whether it focuses debate on providing the necessary foundations for quality education to be delivered for all children and young people.”

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