Before Christmas Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to education minister Nicky Morgan – and, in the politest of terms, warned her of the inaccuracy of statements she had made about children’s attainments in literacy and numeracy under Labour.
This was the second time she had repeated these figures, and the second time Andrew Dilnot had warned her about them.
The minister seems to be cloth-eared.
So, too, the Andrew Marr show – where these inaccuracies, and other vital information about education and performance, seem to be ignored.
The record should be set straight.
As the election approaches, we’re likely to hear a lot more lies and half-truths from the Tories – and their LibDem allies. If we’re going to have an informed political debate, they need to be exposed.
The other half of that informed political debate is full information about what the parties are offering.
On Education, Ed Miliband last week set out Labour’s plans.
At their heart is a promise to protect education spending so that the next government can equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future.
Speaking at Haverstock School in London, the state school which he attended from 1981 to 1988, he committed the next Labour government to ensuring education spending rises in real terms.
This means that the Department for Education’s entire £58 billion budget will be protected including:
– Early years’ education and childcare for 2-4 year olds
– Schools spending for 5-16 year olds
– Special education provision
– The Pupil Premium which provides additional funding for children in deprived areas
– The Early Intervention Grant which pays for Sure Start centres
– Spending on further education, sixth forms and apprenticeships for 16-19 year olds.
Ed set out Labour’s plan to improve education with measures to:
• Cap class sizes for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds
• Drive up standards in every classroom, in every school, in every region
• Ensure all children in state schools are taught by high-quality qualified teachers
• Raise the status and quality of vocational education and skills
• Give our children the creativity, character and resilience they need to succeed in the 21st Century
[full details below]
This will be a hard fought election.
And there’s every indication that it will be a particularly vicious and dirty campaign.
Ed Miliband’s Labour party threatens too many vested interests.
It’s not just the Murdoch press who are out to get him and Labour.
We’ll continue to bring you details of Labour’s policies – and of the Coalition’s ‘inaccuracies’.
If you want to help secure a Labour Government in May – and to help get Alex Sobel get elected here in Leeds NW – sign up here
Ed Miliband’s speech
“If we are to restore the Promise of Britain, we need to equip all our children with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed with excellence from the first steps a child takes to the day they stride into the adult world: education today for the economy of tomorrow.
“Indeed the biggest challenge we face is preparing our young people for the economy of the future, not of yesterday. In the 21st century, world class education isn’t a luxury for the individual. It’s a necessity.
“And if this educational imperative is true for individuals, it is true on a bigger scale for our country. The generational question facing us is whether we are fated to be an economy and a country in which a few people do fabulously well, while most people work harder and harder just to keep their place. If we do not give every young person the skills and knowledge they need we will lock in a two tier economy.
“This is about our productivity as a country because in the 21st century, when companies can move across borders, it is the skills and talents of a people that is the unique national asset.’
Ed Miliband’s promises make clear the big differences between Labour and Tory.
“This government used to say it would protect schools.
“But last week the Prime Minister abandoned that commitment and said he would cut schools spending.
“Driven by his plan to cut back to public spending as a share of national income to 1930s levels, an era when children left school at 14.’
“We will take a different path.
“And we can do it because we have a sensible, balanced approach to deficit reduction. Not a dangerous and extreme one.
“This government will not achieve its plans on deficit reduction with their plans to cut education spending. Because we can only balance the books by creating the high wage, high skill jobs we need.’
“Of course, supporting education at times when there is a deficit to reduce, means we will have to make tough decisions elsewhere. And, in these circumstances it is more important than ever that the people and businesses of our country who pay their taxes, know that everyone is playing their part. And that the rules make sure they do.
“Because those taxes pay for brilliant schools, upon which our future prosperity depends.
“This government likes to talk big on tax avoidance. But it acts small. It has failed to take on the tax havens. Failed to act properly against tax avoidance.
And this matters.
“Because this is the big choice facing our country:
A choice between an old economy defended by this government in which a blind eye is turned to tax avoidance.
And a new economy built by investing in the talents and education of all our young people.”
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Details of Labour’s plans
1.You cannot build a successful economy on falling investment in education
– The CBI has stated that if we raise education standards in UK schools to match the best in Europe this would add £8 trillion to the economy over the lifetime of a child born today. This is equivalent to around 1% of GDP every year.
But the Tories want to take public service spending as a proportion of GDP back to the 1930s, before there was an NHS. Their plan to cut public spending to 35 per cent of national income is extreme and puts public services at risk. That will mean:
• Soaring class sizes – if the number of infants taught in large classes continues to rise at the current rate, the number of classes over 30 is on course to grow to 11,000 by 2020.
• More unqualified teachers – if the number of unqualified teachers continues to rise at the current rate, by 2020 there will be nearly 50,000 unqualified teachers working across our schools. This would mean an average of two unqualified teachers in every state-funded school.
• A shortage of teachers: the country needs an additional 16,500 maths, physics and Computer science teachers over the next three years – yet new official figures reveal that recruitment targets have been missed in all of these key STEM subjects with just 3,366 maths, physics and Computer science trainees recruited this year, suggesting the country will be short of 6,400 STEM teachers by 2018.
2. Labour will cap class sizes for 5,6 and 7 year-olds
The Tories have scrapped Labour’s policy to cap infant class sizes at 30 pupils. The proportion of class sizes bigger than this has trebled. That means the number of youngest children taught in such classes has risen by over 60,000.
This is in part because the Tories’ Free School programme has opened schools in areas that have a surplus of places. It has seen more than 30,000 places created in areas where they were not needed over this Parliament. On these trends if the Tories win a second term, the number of classes over 30 is on course to grow to 11,000 – a number close to the deeply damaging levels we inherited in 1997.
The next Labour government will:
• Cap class sizes for 5,6 and 7 & year-olds so they are not bigger than 30 pupils for more than 12 months.
• Create the required places in high need areas to deliver this cap, including in the over-subscribed schools which parents often put as their first choice by ending the Tory practice of creating new Free Schools in areas that do not need them.
3. Labour will drive up standards in every class room, in every school, in every region.
There are still 1.6 million children being educated in under-performing schools. We will take the battle to raise standards from our great cities where standards have risen over the last two decades to every corner of our country where there is persistent under-achievement. These include:
Labour will ensure:
• Every area has a new Standards Challenge setting a tough target to raises performance in every school – modelled on the last government’s successful programme in London which dramatically improved attainment in the capital
• Every school is locally accountable to new Directors of Standards
• Every parent body has the power to call in Directors of Standards when concerned about failing standards
• Every head teacher has the key freedoms currently given to academy heads.
4. Labour will ensure all children in state schools are taught by high-quality qualified teachers:
Last year 50,000 experienced, qualified teachers have left the profession – an increase of 25% since 2010 – while the number of unqualified teachers who have taken their places in our classrooms rose to 17,000.
• Ensure all teachers become qualified, create a new Master Teacher status and establish a College of Teaching to help ensure all teachers continue to build their skills and knowledge
• Issue a ‘call to arms’ to bring the best of the 200,000 qualified teachers who have left the profession back into state schools to help to raise standards across the country. And address the looming teacher shortage
5. Labour will raise the status and quality of vocational education and skills.
Under the Tories, the latest figures show that 202,000 16 to 18 year-olds are not in education, employment or training (NEET), employers say skills gaps are getting worse and complain about poor standards in Maths and English, we are training less than half the number of engineers needed per year leaving Britain with a shortfall of more than 400,000 by 2020, and the number of apprenticeships for young people is falling.
• Introduce a new Technical Baccalaureate for 16-18 year olds which includes an employer accredited vocational qualification, English, Maths and work experience.
• Ensure all young people study English and Maths to 18, so they have the core skills they need to succeed in work, further study and apprenticeships.
• Raise the quality of apprenticeships so they all last a minimum of two years and are at least a level three standard (A level standard).
• Bring in new Technical Degrees as a next step for young people who excel in our new vocational route through school and college.
• Back new Institutes of Technical Education linked to local industry and charged with delivering our Tech Bacc and apprenticeships
6. Labour will give our children the creativity, character and resilience they need to succeed in the 21st Century.
The Tories are not equipping our young people for the challenges of the modern world because they are driven by a narrow and old-fashioned ideology on education.
Labour will prepare young people to be citizens by:
• Bringing in compulsory work experience for all young people between 14-16
• Introducing compulsory age appropriate sex and relationship education in schools.
• Guaranteeing two hours of organised sport a week.
• Widening the franchise to voters at 16 and redesigning the curriculum for citizenship education