Thursday, April 15th Anyone reading Tuesday’s Tory manifesto would be entitled to think that the party had done a U-turn on an “announcement” last summer that key stage 2 Sats were to be scrapped in favour of tests taken at the start of secondary school. But have they really? The picture on testing may not to be as black-and-white as the 120-page document suggests. But I’m still not sure. Last June, Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, excited a flurry of interest from newspapers and broadcasters after suggesting, on Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning TV show, that Sats as they are currently known would go. (A transcriptRead More →

Monday, April 12th Where to start with Gordon Brown’s latest pronouncement on yet another round of schools reform? This was announced on the front page of today’s Guardian as the centrepiece of his party’s election manifesto. “More than 1,000 mediocre or failing secondary schools will be taken over to drive up standards”, the paper’s coverage began. This is education policy-making-by-numbers: tired, recycled and somehow both depressing and damaging while at the same time being largely vacuous. OK, I’ll say what I really think: I didn’t like it. Labour’s education manifesto may well have some good bits. It’s just a shame that this policy has grabbedRead More →

Thursday, April 8th Yes, you read that right. David Blunkett, education secretary from 1997 to 2001, used characteristically blunt language to describe the state of teaching at the start of his period at Sanctuary Buildings, as he saw it, in a recent interview with MPs. His comments were made in an evidence session to the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families committee, under its inquiry into the “foundations of the education system”. The session, in which three other former secretaries of state appeared alongside Mr Blunkett, also saw Charles Clarke, who led the schools department from 2002 to 2004, lament the Government’s rejection ofRead More →

Thursday, April 8th Apologies: having re-checked this from the DCSF statement on this subject, it looks like the “intervention” powers I wrote about in last night’s post are no longer in the bill, so the last two pars of that blog are wrong.Read More →

  Wednesday, April 7th It’s bizarre what’s happened to the last education bill of this Parliament today, with the scrapping of changes including the Rose primary curriculum reforms, compulsory sex education classes and the proposed school report card. The trigger was the failure of the Government and the Conservatives to reach agreement on the bill, with the Tories opposed to much of it. With time running out in the run-up to the election, in the so-called “wash-up” period, it appears the Conservatives had the whip hand and therefore their opposition to reforms including the Rose review seems to have won the day. It’s almost asRead More →

Tuesday, April 6th At a conference in London last Wednesday held by the New Vision group, the organisation set up by the former National Union of Teachers general secretary Fred Jarvis to lobby ministers on changes to education policy, I heard an interesting anecdote. Among the speakers was the head of a very successful inner-city comprehensive. He gave a balanced view on the successes and failures of education policy under New Labour. But I was particularly interested in the following section of his speech, when he talked about the priorities he would set for ministers after the election. He said: “I would like to see a reductionRead More →