TUC 2012: When two years ago ATL asked TUC Congress to debate the Conservative-led government's moves to privatise England's state-funded schools, we little guessed the message would need to be repeated at this year's Congress.
But the sad truth is that, despite the government's intentions becoming clearer, a popular campaign of opposition has not developed.
The government was forced to retreat on its plans to privatise the health service because of a combination of political and popular opposition.
Politicians, health service staff and their unions, service users and the public at large jostled for TV and radio air-time as the media caught the mood. So why have similar plans for England's schools not produced an identical reaction?
I think one reason for the lack of widespread opposition is that the government has been less than open about its plans for our schools.
Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove - a man who can make six contradictory announcements before breakfast - let the mask slip at the Leveson inquiry when he admitted that he was not adverse to allowing free schools to make profits in the second-term of a Tory-led government. Yet many people still fail to realise that the academies and "free schools" policy is a stepping stone to privatisation.
The reality is that, although claiming he is not an ideologue, Mr Gove is on a mission to marketise the whole school system.
The government appears to have a three-step plan. Stage one involves fragmenting the local co-ordination of state-funded schools by converting them into academies operating in isolation.
In stage two a range of organisations, including profit-making companies, are encouraged to take over the management of schools.
In stage three the government stands back and lets these organisations compete and trade schools as if they were commodities.
Another reason for the lack of opposition to school privatisation is that it isn't easy for campaigners to convince parents and the rest of the public of the danger.
Most people cannot see a problem with leaving schools to look after themselves.
It is true that many larger schools can look after themselves until they run into a spot of bother, such as a fire or a need for legal advice, as all schools do from time to time.
I fear that we may have to wait until the catalogue of disasters is large enough to convince people that privatisation will cause serious problems.
But maybe not. Central to the government's argument is that parents should have the right to choose. But Mr Gove is a man in a hurry, and despite all the incentives and coercion, just 10 per cent of schools have so far applied to become academies.
Primary schools in particular do not wish to stand alone, hence the government's policy of forced conversion. We now need to expose the truth - that, as far as the government is concerned, parents only have the right to choose as long as they choose the Gove way.
ATL believes it is vital for future generations of our children that we prevent the government from privatising all of England's schools.
I put my hopes in the very large measure of support, particularly outside the hothouse of the London elite, for our state-funded schools. We must use the contradictions in Gove's pronouncements to undermine him.
Martin Johnson is deputy general secretary of ATL.
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