So Nick Clegg is to propose comparative assessments of children at the end of primary school.
Looks as if his pal Michael Gove would be in the bottom 10% for arithmetic.
From September, as the Guardian reports, record numbers of children will be taught in Primary classes of 31 or more. Head teachers are being forced to use music rooms, school halls and sites are again being covered with temporary buildings to cope with the pressure of demand.
Yet the Government has funded the development of free schools in places where they are not needed.
Impact assessments of the first wave of free schools show that the Department for Education has privately recognised that primary schools have been established at a cost to the taxpayer in areas where there is no lack of places. In one case, a school was set up despite the acknowledgment that there was never likely to be a need for more primary places in the area.
The free school, Rainbow Primary in Bradford, opened despite the local authority telling the government that “these additional primary places are not required, especially in light of … plans to expand a number of existing primary schools and the expansion of some existing academies to all-through schools”.
As if all this was not enough, Mr Gove appears to have changed the rules to deny children full-time places at primary school.
Four-year-olds had been given an automatic right to a whole day of classes by Ed Balls when he was Education Secretary in the last Labour Government. But the Education Secretary removed a reference to providing them with ‘full-time’ education in last year’s school admissions code.
According to the Daily Mail the U-turn will cause chaos for thousands of working parents left paying for childcare or looking for shift work if schools insist on educating their children part-time.
One parent is already preparing a legal challenge after a school said it would only teach her child for a few hours each day. Dr Andrea Jarman registered her daughter Eibhlis at St Mark’s Primary School in Talbot, Bournemouth, but was told she only qualified for three hours every day, either in the morning or afternoon, during the first term. The lecturer in law at Bournemouth University was advised to find another school when she complained she could not fit her work around the timetable. ‘Does Michael Gove not want more women in work, rather than having to give up their job or go part-time because they cannot get a full-time place for their child?’ she said.
Again the numbers haven’t added up, and there’s no room for 4 year olds in schools.
Behind all this chaos, of course, lies Mr Gove’s relentless drive towards an education market.
His blinkered ideological approach is squandering resources and making planning increasingly impossible.
We’re funding empty classrooms in some parts of the country while schools in other parts are full and overcrowded – and four year olds are being denied the rights Labour gave them.
Do your sums, Mr Gove.
But then, if you’re a free-market ideologue as he is, you believe the great hidden hand of the market will do them for you.
Pity our children are paying the price for the inability of either minister or market to get them right.