The Education Secretary Michael Gove’s recent decision to stop the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme, which rebuilds rundown school buildings, has ignited controversy among our panelists. Despite the programme’s aims, it has been criticised as being inefficient, resulting in new schools being built in poorer areas even if they are not needed, and older schools in affluent areas left crumbling.
Indeed, when asked for their views, many were critical of Gove’s decision, with one respondent describing it as ‘short termism’. Another simply wrote ‘you can't expect efficient learning in run down environments’, and there were accusations that the Government has an ulterior motive of wishing to use the money saved to fund ‘“free” schools’ and to persuade schools to apply for academy status. A number of panelists also asserted that there is an ideological element to the policy, with one writing ‘[it] doesn't surprise me as it came from a Conservative’.
However, a large number asserted that the scrapping of the scheme is a ‘necessary evil’, caused by ‘the previous government's recklessness with the economy’ and ‘Labour making rash, unaffordable promises to try to win the election’. Another dominant view was that schools were less important than the teaching within them, and that more effort needed to be put in to ‘weed out bad teachers’. One respondent simply wrote, ‘good schools are more than just new buildings’.