Writing in his Telegraph blog, Toby Young is somewhat unimpressed with Labour’s latest announcement on education following David Blunkett’s review…
… I was expecting something bold and radical – a big announcement – and, on the face of it, thats what we’ve been given.“Labour vows to dismantle Michael Gove’s education reforms,”screamed the headline in today’s Telegraph. Sounds pretty big.
So which of Gove’s reforms would Labour “dismantle” if the party wins the next election?
Free schools? Nope, doesn’t look like it…
Academies? Nope, not going to touch those either. More than half the state secondary schools in England are now academies and Labour isn’t proposing to do anything to put the brakes on that policy.
Is Labour proposing to claw back some of the freedoms Gove has granted to free schools and academies? Nope. David Blunkett, the mastermind behind the education policy review, was at pains to make that clear on the Today programme this morning.
Are they going to “dismantle” Gove’s reforms of the National Curriculum? Nope. Change the new accountability measures? Nope. Reverse the changes to GCSEs, AS-levels and A-levels? Nope, nope, nope. All of that’s going to remain untouched.
So what, exactly, is Labour going to do?
Three things, far as I can see.
First, they’re going to extend the freedoms currently enjoyed by free schools and academies to all state schools. Not sure I’d describe that as “dismantling” Gove’s reforms – more like “enlarging” them. Or perhaps “duplicating” them would be more accurate. Blunkett has been trumpeting the fact that, under Labour, all schools will have the right to determine the length of the school day. But, er, they already have that right and have done since September 2011. Doh!
Second, they’re going to insist that all schools publish their audited accounts online. That’s something free schools and academies already have to do – you can see the West London Free School’s here – so, again, this is more of an extension of Gove’s reforms.
Finally – and Labour seem really excited by this – they’re going to transfer power from Whitehall to a new cadre of “independent directors of school standards” who will work with local authorities to help drive improvement in under-performing schools. Yes, good idea – but, er, these new “independent directors” sound suspiciously like the “Regional Schools Commissioners” unveiled last year and starting work this September. Again, not so much “dismantling” as an out-and-out rip-off of one of Gove’s existing policies….
Has Toby Young got his analysis right here? Is the idea that this proposed set of Labour reforms will dismantle Michael Gove’s reforms nothing but spin? Please let us know in the comments, via Twitter and by taking part in our poll…