Tory education manifesto - gaps and contradictions
13 Apr 2010
For all its overall size, the Conservative Party manifesto gives less space to education than Labour's equivalent - just three pages compared to Labour's six. Not that size is important!
Perhaps it was just the editing but one key promise did not make it through from the earlier draft manifesto to the final bound version: the promise to create 220,000 new school places through their Swedish-style school reforms. Although the Tories insist this is because that figure is a minimum not a target, its absence does suggest a sensitivity about the costs of the policy.
Otherwise, while there were no surprises there were plenty of contradictions. Despite David Cameron's stated desire to replace state power with 'people power', there are plenty of signs that a Conservative Schools Secretary would not be able to resist pulling a number of levers to make sure schools and teachers go in the direction they want.
Thus the Tories extol school autonomy but cannot resist prescribing synthetic phonics, more setting by ability, a primary curriculum organised around 'maths, science and history', and reading tests at age 6.
The education chapter also seems to assume it is vulgar to mention money as there is not is a word about funding.