The Daily Politics Education Debate
03 May 2010
Taking part in BBC2's Daily Politics education debate was an education!
Michael Gove, Ed Balls, and David Laws certainly went for one another with gusto. They were not all so keen to answer the questions from Andrew Neil and myself, although they did pretty well in giving short answers to the quick-fire (yes/no) round on the future of A-levels, the need for school uniform, and the desirability of competitive sport in schools.
Michael Gove admitted that past Conservative governments had not spent enough on replacing old school buildings, blaming the economic conditions in the 1980s. He also admitted that there had been 'some' improvements in school standards, under Labour - but nowhere near enough and with a number of problems left unresolved.
David Laws was more willing to conceded that the Labour government had achieved improvements in standards.
However, we still did not learn what the Conservatives' pupil premium will cost (a fairly straightforward question), although I asked Michael Gove about this twice. On another topic, he did acknowledge that he could face a legal challenge on human rights grounds over his proposal to end the right of appeal in school exclusions but said he would be prepared to face that.
We also learnt what all three would do about the national curriculum tests boycott if or when they become Schools Secretary at the end of the week. There was a tough line from Balls and Gove - who would do all they can to ensure the tests go ahead - but there was a more nuanced approach from David Laws.
Neither Messrs. Balls or Gove gave any details or promises about student tuition fees. David Laws was on stronger ground here, as the Liberal Democrats have a clear policy of abolishing the fees. But he was, perhaps, less clear where the money would come from to fund this £1.8 billion pledge.
To watch it again, go to: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s6pvq
Or for a news summary go to: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8658257.stm