It's great news that the Government has send Bradford £11m to set up an "Opportunity Area" promoting social mobility. Here's a chunk from the press release:
The Opportunity Area programme will be delivered by a partnership between the Department for Education and Bradford Council.I ought to be chuffed that a Conservative Government is, yet again, supporting the improvement of education in Bradford. All this on the back of successful free schools, academies and a renewed focus on educational outcomes. But there's a bit in all this that makes me really very angry:
The new plan has been developed by a partnership board with representatives from Bradford schools, the council, charities and the private sector.
Bradford is one of 12 Opportunity Areas across the country which are each receiving a £6m share of £72 million to improve opportunities for young people.
The district will also benefit from investment of up to £5 million over two years through the Essential Life Skills programme, to help disadvantaged young people develop life skills such as resilience, emotional wellbeing and employability.
As part of the Opportunity Area programme a Research School has been opened in Bradford, being run by Dixons Academies, which will work to share evidence-based research of what works in the classroom to help raise standards across the district.
Research schools are being supported by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Institute for Effective Education to act as local centres of excellence in Opportunity Areas.
Anne-Marie Canning, the Chair of Bradford Opportunity Area Partnership Board,Who is this person, I wondered. The name wasn't familiar to me but then I don't know everyone involved or connected to education in my city. So I googled:
Great credentials but she's doing a very senior job at a large university in London. I wonder, and don't take this as criticism of her specifically, whether she's going to be able to give the sort of attention to the project that someone who lives and works within Bradford (or at least somewhere nearby) could give? I also wonder why, given recent experiences, a Conservative government is appointing people to chair boards who have this sort of experience in their CV:
Yes folks. Not only is our new chair not from Bradford and working in London but she used to be a Labour Councillor.
In the end it probably doesn't matter greatly but it still sends out a message - loudly and clearly - from the Government in London that only people in London count and that important roles like overseeing the investment of £11m to improve educational opportunities for young people in Bradford cannot be trusted to someone who actually has some sort of connection to the city. And maybe part of the reason why boards and institutions are so ready to snap at the Conservative hand feeding them is because we keep appointing left wing academics, Labour councillors and their assorted fellow travellers to run them.
Was there no-one from Bradford available to do this job? Frankly I don't believe it, it's just a London presumption that nobody in Bradford would be good enough to do the job because, well, it's Bradford isn't it. You know Up North where the thick people live.