Labour launches education policy review
12 Mar 2011
From the ASCL conference in Manchester:
The Shadow Schools Secretary, Andy Burnham, says he wants to 'dust down' the Tomlinson proposals for 14 - 19 education as part of the Labour Party's fundamental schools policy review, which he formally launched in a speech at the ASCL annual conference.
He told head teachers that the last Labour government did 'miss something' with its failure to implement in full Sir Mike Tomlinson's recommendations for an over-arching qualification to cover both academic and vocational courses. 'We must have a broad ad balanced curriculum', he said.
He also said the policy review would have to consider what to do about the new-style converted academies and Free Schools being promoted by the coalition government.
He promised that he 'would not seek to close successful Free schools or to reverse academy status but - instead - local areas should judge whether they are serving the wider interest'.
He said a future Labour government's approach to Free Schools and converted academies would be based 'not just on the results of individual schools but on the effect on results across a family of schools in the area'.
A further question for the Labour Party's policy review, he said, would be how to ensure that all students reach adulthood with a 'decent proficiency in maths and English'. He said he wanted a debate to see if it is possible 'to have the ambition for all students to leave with at least a grade C in GCSE maths and English'.
Assessing the last Labour government's record, Mr Burnham said he had heard and understood the message that 'micro-management went too far'.
He also wanted the policy review to look at the question: 'how do we unlock the power of partnership and collaboration to raise standards?'
He promised that Labour would 'not fall into the trap of believing that structural change leads automatically to better results' and admitted that at times Labour had focused 'too much on structural change'.