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Seaton Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education warns that the teachers unions have support amongst the educational establishment.

Among many disturbing proposals put forward at this year's teachers' union conferences, two in particular stood out.

One was aimed at removing choice of school from parents.  In fact, the teachers did not just want to remove choice, which is limited anyway. They want to remove the statutory  right of parents to express a preference for particular schools. Instead, they said, every child should go to their nearest local school.

This proposal reinforced what the former director of Sheffield Hallam University's Centre of Education and Inclusion, Professor John Coldron, had told a local government conference a few weeks ago. Allowing parents choice of school, he said, creates social and religious divisions in society. And it harms academic achievement.

Good schools, Professor Coldren suggested, should be compelled to offer places to struggling (and presumably badly behaved) youngsters to prevent wealthy families from monopolising available places. According to him, it would be better if secondary schools selected their pupils on the basis of 'fair-banding'  with equal numbers from each ability-band.

This is not pie in the sky. Fair-banding is already operating in more than 20 local authority areas and socialist 'progressives' love such egalitarian measures.

Equally disturbing was the teachers' union call to do away with national tests in primary schools.  At the NUT conference over the Easter week-end, more than 1,000 delegates voted unanimously to boycott next year's tests, Unless ministers have already stopped them.

This is not pie in the sky either.  Few would admit it, but the removal of school choice and accountability are hugely favoured by education department officials and their local authority colleagues. If parents had no objective information on school performance and choice was banned or redundant, children could simply be assigned to their nearest school:  no complicated admissions procedures, no form checking, no appeals, no criticism for low levels of satisfaction or achievement.

After that,  it would be easier to change more schools towards what Professor David Hargreaves of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust called an 'essential change  of  emphasis' from academic to social subjects. And 'more self-conscious social and political objectives'.  The 'progressive' Utopia would be another step nearer.

Two other points from the conferences are worth noting.

Teacher concern about bad behaviour is growing, though delegates at the NUT conference chanting 'no more useless tests'  and 'scrap the SATs'  did not set a good example.Don't they realise that child-centred education produces self-centred children?

Rather more rational was the observation that massive new schools, often created by unwelcome federations, are adding to the breakdown of discipline. There are now 25 schools with more than 2,000 pupils and another 263 have between 1,500 and 1,999 on roll. Perhaps local strategic planners should take note? And perhaps sensible local authorities should engage in constructive procrastination for the next 12 months?  In the end, it may encourage more parents to vote.

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