Not against academies but they are not a silver bullet for improvement
Current government policy he claims eschews vital ingredient ‘collaboration’
The Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg, in his speech to the ASCL, last weekend, claimed that this governments academies policy resulted in a two tier system and was not encouraging system wide reform. He said “I believe Michael Gove has learnt the wrong lesson from New Labour’s school reforms. He thinks that academies are about recreating the grammar school model. A group of high flying schools which are given additional funding and support, but no plan to raise the quality of education across the whole school system. An increasingly fragmented schools landscape, while what we need is better collaboration between schools to raise standards. Labour’s original academies programme was about how you realise the comprehensive ideal – mixed ability education with rigorous standards. We focussed on driving up standards in some of the most challenging schools in some of the least well off neighbourhoods.”
He talked of an Arc of Underachievement which holds back the life chances of too many children across the country with too much inconsistency. He said “ Michael Gove thinks that the answer to this underperformance is to create free schools and academies. But if this was the case – why is the worst performing school in England, an academy. Why is that of the Free Schools who have had Ofsted inspections – all of the secondary schools – admittedly only three – have been inspected, have been giving a “requires improvement” rating, despite having wealthy intakes and not one of the schools is rated as outstanding?”
Twigg reiterated that he was not against academies, but nor does he think they are a ‘ silver bullet’ for school improvement.
He is proud of Labours academy record. He said, referring to the recent report of the Academies Commission: “The Commission is absolutely clear about the impact of Labour’s academies programme. While I know that some people would like Labour to condemn academies – I will not. They helped raise standards amongst some of the poorest children in Britain. We should be rightly proud, and celebrate the teachers and heads that delivered. As the Commission notes, “these early academies revitalised the system, including initiating a shift in culture…[they] showed just how much could be achieved with high aspirations, determination that young people would achieve well, and a rigorous and consistent approach to school improvement.”
Crucially though , Twigg believes that the current system is atomised and missing a vital ingredient for system improvement -collaboration. He said “The problem is at the heart of Michael Gove’s approach. A free market ideology fails to understand that collaboration is critical to school improvement. Andreas Schleicher, who leads the OECD’s work on education has said that “professional autonomy needs to go hand in hand with a collaborative culture, with autonomous schools working in partnership to improve teaching and learning.” He points to schools in Scandinavia, Japan and Shanghai which have embedded a culture of teamwork and cooperation. However, nearly two thirds of academies are ‘singletons’ – not part of a school improvement partnership. These represent the bulk of academies set up since 2010. An increasingly fragmented, atomised system where schools are not encouraged to collaborate.”
Twigg concluded: “Michael Gove missed a golden opportunity with the converter academy programme. He promised to promote collaboration in the Schools White Paper in 2010. He could have made it a requirement of a school becoming an academy that they support a weaker school, but he failed.”
The Secretary of State, Michael Gove , says that rigorous research from the OECD and others has shown that more autonomy for individual schools helps raise standards. He points to the fact that two of the most successful countries in PISA – Hong Kong and Singapore - are amongst those with the highest levels of school competition (Finland, though, another high flier eschews competition). He wants both competition and collaboration. In a speech to the the Schools Network in December 2011 he said “Overall, our vision for the future is of a self-improving network of schools, innovating and engaging, competing and collaborating, teaching and training, for the benefit of all our children.”
Performance pay-be careful what you wish for
From September 2013, the set “spine points” on teachers main pay scale are to be scrapped, with schools free to set teachers’ pay anywhere between minimum and maximum levels depending on performance.
While academies are already free to deviate from national pay structures, (very few have, to date) the plans drawn up by the STRB – and accepted in full by the Department for Education – will now give other schools greater power to link teachers’ pay to performance.
It is clear that the issue of performance related pay is high on this governments agenda. Ministers are trying to raise the quality of teaching to compare with the best in the world. The OECD (2009) concluded that “the effective monitoring and evaluation of teaching is central to the continuous improvement of the effectiveness of teaching in a school”. It is less clear that this issue is high on teachers and governors agendas.
The last Labour government introduced a PRP system in the late 1990’s and just about every teacher who was eligible met the criteria for a pay rise ,(96%) so it didn’t really work . In short, it failed effectively to link extra rewards to higher performance. Heads and governors dont much like dealing with this sensitive issue head on as inevitably it causes some conflicts and ill feeling within staff rooms, which may go some way to explaining why the last system failed.
Central to PRP or ‘merit ‘pay is the ability to accurately measure and evaluate individual teachers performance. The system you develop should be fair, efficient and not have a large bureaucracy attached to it. And that is why,frankly, it is problematic.
The three most common ways to evaluate teacher effectiveness, according to research, are gains in test scores, classroom observations and pupil surveys. Each method though has its known weaknesses. Teacher observation apparently is the least predictive method of assessing teacher effectiveness. Nonetheless, despite this, those involved with teacher evaluation say that each element has its place within a comprehensive and fair teacher evaluation system. The key they claim is to get the right balance between these different elements, which is easier said than done.
Of these elements, gains in pupil test scores are seen by most as the best available metric to measure teacher performance. However, as they are finding in the USA, it doesn’t come without its problems. (around forty states have introduced some form of merit pay, incentivised to do so by the Federal government) . Although schools can have a substantial impact on performance, student test scores can also increase, decrease or remain flat for reasons that have little or nothing to do with schools. Measurement errors can occur, while parental education levels, family’s economic circumstances, and parental involvement, can also play a role. There is self-evidently a strong incentive for playing the numbers to look successful on “quality” measures since the numbers carry substantial consequences for the teacher. This is a very high stakes game. Working out how to look good, through test results, becomes an end in itself, with the numbers becoming more important than the primary task of teaching students. Given that many politicians now worry about teachers being pre-occupied with teaching to the test, and children’s education suffering as a consequence, introducing test scores as the primary metric to evaluate teachers is going to encourage more (indeed all) teachers to teach to the test ,not less.
It would seem that Value-added or progress measures, rather than absolute test or exam results, should be the primary data used in evaluating performance, certainly this is what many experts recommend. But, and its quite a big but, measuring value added is itself not free from controversy and there are different models available, with their own strengths and weaknesses, and with no clear consensus identifiable.
There are ways, though, of using pay to encourage groups of teachers to work better together to improve outcomes. And, if one is honest about this issue, it sticks in the craw that outstanding teachers are not rewarded as they should be, while poor teachers can stay in the profession for life having a hugely negative effect on students life opportunities, and education outcomes, while acting as a drag on improving the system more generally (quite apart from irritating their better performing peers).
To recap-to make progress in this area you need to develop a system that is fair, balanced, transparent and not too bureaucratic. They are still struggling with this challenge in the States, where they are well ahead of us in both thinking and practice on this issue.
One recent study titled ‘The Use and Misuse of Teacher Appraisal’ (Laura Figazzolo- Education International Research Institute Consultant- January 2013) found: ‘ The evidence is that many dimensions need to be taken into account when evaluating teachers. Student achievements are but one dimension – especially when these are standardized tests. Where teacher appraisal is based on professional standards, classroom observations, curriculum development, and a wide range of associated factors which are associated with teaching and teacher perspectives, comprehensive methods seem to be able to provide more valuable information. When teacher appraisal arrangements and policies are conceived with the participation of teachers and their unions, comprehensive methods seem to be able to gain teachers’ trust and provide valuable information. As such, they are gaining growing recognition in the debate on teacher appraisal’
It is frustratingly true that schools here seeking expert advice and guidance on this issue will be confronted with much conflicting evidence and the issue is neither simple nor straightforward..
WHO IS THE TOP GRADUATE RECRUITER?
The latest High Fliers study suggests the top employer of new graduates in 2013 is Teach First, with 1,260 vacancies, followed by the consultancy firms Deloitte and PwC, planning to hire 1,200 new graduates each. Teach First, inspired by an American scheme, recruits top graduates into teaching and supports them to ‘ raise the achievement, aspirations and access to opportunity of pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds.’ The trainees join its Leadership Development Programme which involves teaching for a minimum of two years, achieving a PGCE and wider leadership skills training. After the two years, more than half the graduates continue to teach within schools in low-income communities, with many moving into middle and senior leadership positions. Those who don’t stay in teaching have acquired useful skills that they can use throughout their careers but have also developed an understanding of teachers and teaching that may help raise the status of the profession.
Research from Aston University confirms the conclusion from the High Fliers report (Jan 14) that graduates need work experience while at university to stand a better chance of gaining graduate employment. The study shows that placement courses can double a student’s employment prospects. Yet fewer placement courses are currently being offered by universities.
Gove attacked for not bothering to convince stakeholders that his policies are right
Laura McInerney, a teacher, Fulbright scholar and Policy Development Partner at consultants LMKCO is concerned , as she sees it,about the Secretary of States unwillingness, or inability, to sell his education reforms to key stakeholders. McInerney has had an almost continuous dialogue on Twitter with Goves respected special adviser, Sam Freedman , due to move to Teach First as head of research, around this and related themes.
She says Gove can and should implement the policies he has long championed – free schools, the Ebacc, terminal exams – but through the correct processes.
She blogs ‘ In recent weeks Gove has stomped heavily on the processes of an informed democracy that hold politicians accountable once in power. If a Secretary of State steadfastly refuses to answer questions in the Education Select Committee about their latest reform, this matters for accountability (see Q11-36) . If in that same meeting the Secretary of State says they will ignore the independent regulator’s serious concerns about a GCSE reform, it matters for accountability (see Q46). When the Department for Education has one of the worst response rates to requests for Freedom of Information, it matters for accountability. When the civil service – bound by a code of political impartiality – sends out tweets about teacher strike action which feel to teachers to be heavily politicised, it diminishes an impartially informed democracy. And when significant education policies are announced through the pages of a newspaper that citizens can only access by paying the corporation (the Times) at the centre of 2012’s biggest media scandal, then –surely! – democracy and accountability aren’t just suffering, by now they are on the floor and weeping.’
A little strong, perhaps, but she concludes that Gove does not have to change his policies simply because people don’t like them, but as part of an informed democracy he does need to convince people he is right.
Certainly Goves performance before the Select Committee recently raised some eyebrows as he refused to discuss with the Committee Ofquals (well known) concerns about the timetable for the introduction of the new EBC for reasons, that were not very clear (concerns shared, incidentally, by the exam boards). He must be careful not to allow the perception to be created that he lacks transparency or is being obstructive or ignoring process, as this suggests a lack of confidence in his own policies. It is very easy to become prickly and over defensive if attacked and Gove is, by nature, a courteous and confident debater and advocate. He is more than capable of making a strong case for his own policies without leaving the impression that he is careless about the need for full transparency and accountability. It would also help in this respect if his department improved its poor record( yes it does have one of the worst departmental records ) in responding quickly to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act and in answering parliamentary questions (PQs are supposed to be answered within three days but can take up to six weeks) which junior minister Elizabeth Truss was challenged on recently in a Select Committee hearing.
Young people still receiving inadequate advice on education choices
Mckinsey have just published an important report ‘Education to Employment’ that seeks to identify why there is such a gap between what businesses and employers want, and need, and what education systems provide. Around the world, governments and businesses face a conundrum: high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with critical skills. How can a country successfully move its young people from education to employment? What are the challenges? Which interventions work? How can these be scaled up? Almost 40 percent of employers say a lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level vacancies. If employers are not confident that the system delivers what they want, young people it appears also lack confidence in the system. Half of youth are not sure that their post -secondary education has improved their chances of finding a job. Youth unemployment rates are unacceptably high as is the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training
It has become received wisdom that businessmen need students with more practical vocational skills. While vocational education appears to be a good solution for policymakers, it has, in fact, low or lesser perceived value among students.
This was an important finding. The research compared student “perceptions of value” between traditional education and vocational education and apprentice programmes. In the research every country values traditional education over vocational education except for Germany.. Germany, of course, is a country regarded as something of a model when it comes to practical skills and vocational programmes, with a myriad of apprentice-based programmes and it has among the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe.
Unfortunately, even there vocational programmes are not always seen as the answer. 23% of students who attended vocational programmes there felt they attended the wrong institution, and 42% are unsure they took the right programme. This is hardly encouraging.
The report also highlights, more generally, the fact that young people are not getting the advice they need at a crucial time of their lives. The report states ‘they face the daunting task of choosing what to study and where to study it. The evidence is distressing: way too many young people take a wrong turn here. Fewer than half of those surveyed are confident that if they had to do it again, they would study the same subject. That’s a lot of disappointment; it’s also a sign that students don’t have the information they need to make the right choices.’
In short ,Youth are not well informed when making educational and career choices .
The report continues ‘Some 40 percent of youth report that they were not familiar with the market conditions and requirements even for well-known professions such as teachers or doctors. Without this understanding, many students choose courses half blindly, without a vision of whether there will be a demand for their qualifications upon graduation.’ Sounds familiar?
Politicians wax eloquent about social mobility and the importance of making informed choices at critical points in life. Yet a majority of young people do not have access to high quality, independent advice. They might have an ambition, for example, to go to university but then fail to take the qualifications that they need to achieve this, because they know no better aged 13 and there is nobody there to support them. Its not rocket science. Social mobility cant and wont improve if so many young people don’t make the choices that maximise their potential. Until politicians grasp this nettle ,nothing will change.
WHAT IS EDUCATION FOR?
We forget education is an ideological battleground
One reason why politicians get and stay involved
John Dewey the American educationalist said in 1897: ‘I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform. I believe it is the business of every one interested in education to insist upon the school as the primary and most effective instrument of social progress and reform in order that society may be awakened to realize what the school stands for, and aroused to the necessity of endowing the educator with sufficient equipment properly to perform his task….’
He also said: “As a society becomes more enlightened, it realizes that it is responsible not to transmit and conserve the whole of its existing achievements, but only such as make for a better future society. The school is the chief agency for the accomplishment of this end”
These are statements of political intent. Schools and education, the argument runs, can never be neutral. Dewey is saying that educators have to be at the heart of and the drivers of societal change. Dewey, and his apologists, were intent, through education, in building a better, fairer, more equitable, plural society through reforms in school organization, curriculum, instruction, and, indeed latterly technology. Dewey’s Pedagogical Creed was heavily influenced by the effects of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Capitalism had failed, to his mind. A new post capitalist order was in the wings. George S Counts’ “Dare the School Build a New Social Order“ was another thinker with a Deweyan vision. He talked about the ‘progressive’ movement in education promoting welfare and social change, through education in schools. Counts talked of the need to develop a compelling vision of ‘Americas destiny’ and teachers had a role in ‘ imposing’ this vision on students. Teachers are agents of change.
Critics say this amounts to indoctrination and brainwashing of pupils-which they say is absolutely not the role of teachers.
But there are some in the educational establishment who share Deweys vision . ED Hirsch the traditionalist, (who actually opposed Deweys approach,) was also criticised on ideological grounds . His Core Curriculum is popular in some American schools and is informed by the proposition that young Americans must be in possession of certain core facts and ideas (which he lists) in order to be culturally literate . (former schools Minister Nick Gibb is a fan of Hirsch) .But in prescribing what young americans need to know-he has been attacked as an Orwellian Minister of Truth, drilling Americanisms into tender young brains.
One is reminded, when reading the views of many of these reformers, of WB Yeats observation’: ‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity’. Indeed, its true that the very brightest among us are wracked by self-doubt, the rest know the truth with absolute certainty.
Other reformers, just as determined and well-intentioned as Dewey, Counts and Hirsch , view schools as places where pressing national economic challenges, skills gaps and global competitiveness have to be addressed and solved.
Professor Larry Cuban believes that some policymakers see schools as serving the economy and protecting the nation, not as Deweyan agents of “social progress” ie in reducing social injustices. Instead he claims, they seek to insure that poor and minority students trapped in failing schools will have access to equal educational opportunity through expanded parental choice in schools and with everyone going to college. They aim to rescue individuals from poverty and prepare them for better jobs. But what they are not about is arming students to fight for a more equitable society.(Dewey/ Counts). They want America to rise up the international league tables to ensure its global competitiveness. And that is pretty much it.
These ideological battles continue under the surface. But it is important to understand this ideological dimension because it goes some way to explaining why debates on education reform get so heated. Listen to the speeches at the NUTs annual conference, if you doubt this.
In 2012, reformers remain split over the direction that schools should take just as they were over a century ago when John Dewey wrote his Pedagogical Creed. Much of the boiling rhetoric among school reformers in the US , Cuban believes, is due to this conflict over the answer to the question of whether schools can (or ever do) reform society. Which is why in schooling, like religion, “aspirations [are] rarely met” and it generates “far more failure than fulfilment,” according to Cuban
Even if you set aside the ideological dimension, the debate over the purpose of education rumbles on. Barely a week passes without someone asking for a debate to start on what we want from our education system and our schools, as nobody is entirely happy with the status quo. Some see education as being primarily about maximising exam results (ie schools are exam factories). Others that it is all about producing young men and young women able to benefit from higher education, to contribute positively in employment, and to lead meaningful and productive lives in society .Heads such as Anthony Seldon say schools should be about developing the whole human being, of realising individual’s potential, of building character and supporting distinct individual aptitudes. In short, education is an end in itself, and we have lost our way.
Added to this is the confusion over training and education .Some Politicians manage to confuse education with training and simply want pupils to be taught skills that are relevant to the work place. Education is all about equipping you for the employment market. Everything else is a waste of time and resource. Small wonder, then, that education has become such a political battleground, and football, subject to constant change, interventions and churn.
Meanwhile most parents simply want their children to have a good rounded education that prepares them for adult life. Heads and governors for their part pray for a period of calm and consolidation and for the goalposts to stop moving. Teachers want to be treated like professionals rather than to be micro-managed from the centre.
Its worth reflecting, in conclusion ,on how Alasdair McIntyre, the philosopher, summarises the views of Cardinal Newman, who had so much to say about education and the role, in particular, of universities:
‘ the aim of … education is not to fit students for this or that particular profession or career, nor to equip them with theory that will later on find useful applications to this or that form of practice…It is to transform their minds, so that the student becomes a different kind of individual, one able to engage fruitfully in conversation and debate, one who has a capacity for exercising judgement, for bringing insights and arguments from a variety of disciplines to bear on particular complex issues. Independence of mind, rather than compliance with socio-economic expectations, is the goal of education.’
Charity that promotes ‘learning by doing’ wants changes to the training and education system
Some concerns that reforms to GCSEs ignores vocational skills
The Edge Foundation, which champions technical, practical and vocational learning, underpinned by the mantra “learn by doing”, launched, in Parliament this week, the publication ‘Six Steps for Change’- six policy steps which aim to raise the status of technical, practical and vocational learning in the UK. The charity reminds us that there are many pathways to success.
Edge wants an education and training system which helps young people find out what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing; rewards and recognises individual success in all its forms, not just in exams; helps people choose paths that support their talents and ambitions; shows how education creates the knowledge, skills and talents needed by the UK economy;
Edge says that ‘with these aims in mind, we want politicians, practitioners and the public to:
recognise that there are many talents and paths to success
ensure that “learning by doing” is valued equally with academic learning
provide technical, practical and vocational learning as an integral and valued part of every young person’s education and as a recognised route to success
from the age of 14, give young people a choice of learning experiences and pathways based on their motivation, talents and career aspirations
ensure that the technical, practical and vocational education and qualifications offered in schools, FE and HE are high quality and recognised by employers
ensure all young people, whatever their different abilities and interests, leave the system with confidence, ambition and the skills to succeed and the skills the economy needs’
Among its practical recommendations -under Step Four… ‘From the age of 14 give young people a choice of learning experiences..’ is that young people should have access to impartial careers information, advice and guidance from the age of 11 so they can make informed choices at 14+’
At the launch there was much praise for John Hayes, the recently reshuffled Skills Minister, but there were also concerns that ,with his departure , the vocational element of learning might not now get the attention it deserved, despite its growing importance.
Hayes was responsible for launching the National Careers Service which covers advice at 18+ ,with other careers advice for young people, now the responsibility of schools, although they have no ring fenced budget for this provision. The new National Careers Service, launched in April 2012, offers a single point of access to online and helpline support but is focused specifically on young adults. There are real concerns that young people, particularly the most disadvantaged, who need face to face professional advice and mentoring will , because of cost considerations, not get access to such advice, undermining the drive for greater social mobility.
Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation, said on BBC 2 Newsnight, on 17 September, that she understands the need for GCSE reform but said that the reforms do not go far enough. Pupils need access to vocational options and applied skills with some means of assessment and recognition of their achievements, not just their academic achievements .The proposed EBacc (or is it EBC ?) focuses exclusively on academic subjects. We need a more fundamental debate and discussion about what outcomes we need from our education and assessment systems.In her view, we haven’t, as yet, struck the right balance between academic knowledge and vocational skills. Her message was reiterated by Lord Baker, the former Tory Education Secretary, who introduced GCSEs (although the qualification was conceived by Keith Joseph). Lord Baker, chairman of the Edge Foundation, advocates learning by doing and helped launch, with the late Lord Dearing, University Technical Colleges supported by universities and local employers.
Download the full Six Steps for Change report:
The Rumour Mill starts
David Cameron must now be reflecting on his options for a reshuffle, probably in September.
Ed Miliband, after an initial rocky period, just after the leadership elections, has consolidated Labours lead in the opinion polls at 9-10%. The Coalition having peered over the abyss had been trying to breathe new life into the government in the wake of a poorly received Budget , which managed to alienate most stakeholders ,while resulting in a number of U-turns which made the Coalition look weak and accident- prone. George Osborne’s reputation has suffered but he will probably stay put.
The Coalition re-launch has suffered a severe set -back. Tim Montgomerie, the influential Tory blogger, reminds us (Daily Mail/ R4) that the decision to redraw constituency boundaries was part of the Coalition’s agreement to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600. As the price for agreeing to this, the Lib Dems demanded a referendum on Clegg’s pet project of changing the electoral system from first-past-the-post to the so-called Alternative Vote (AV), which the public rejected. Montgomerie points out that it is Clegg who has broken the ‘rules’ of the Coalition Agreement. For it was the referendum on electoral reform — not a shake-up of the Lords — which was linked to the boundary changes in the Coalition Agreement. On Lords reform, it bound the Government only to set up a committee to suggest changes, which it did.What’s more, says Montgomerie, Clegg said earlier this year that Lords and boundary reform were not connected. He was asked four times if there was a link and each time he said ‘no’. Is this important? Yes, very. On two counts. Tories from the grassroots upwards feel that it is Clegg who has done the betraying and their anger is visceral. Secondly, from a practical point of view, the review of constituency boundaries is more important, and a failure to address this issue will make their task even harder at the next election.
There are rumours flying that the education secretary Michael Gove will be moved, in a re-shuffle -possibly to the Home Office- although that is unlikely to help his career over the longer term. Reputations are seldom made and often lost in that most dysfunctional of departments of state. (so ,one has to ask, why would he want to move there?) Elizabeth Truss, a bright new Tory rising star, and former think tanker (Reform) is being touted as a possible replacement to Gove. State educated and an Oxford graduate, her profile fits and she has made big efforts to be noticed as a significant contributor to education debates (main strengths curriculum and exams). Recently Truss called for maths to made compulsory, post 16( we don’t have enough high quality maths teachers- to make this work, by the way).She also launched the Free Enterprise Group of MPs — a pro-free market faction which wants deregulation and lower taxes. But Truss has no Ministerial experience,so it would be a high risk gambit, despite her obvious talent and Goveian zeal. Truss certainly knows her education policy and impressed while at Reform. She has a flinty edge, is intense and adversarial in her style, and her managerial skills are untested and so unknown. (mind you the same could have been said of Gove before he became Secretary of State). The curriculum and qualifications changes, though, it could be said, are to her familiar, well trodden territory. And the DFE has now almost been knocked into shape (notwithstanding occasional damaging leaks) . My guess is that she might come in as a junior education Minister. Gove will probably be offered a move-but may want to stay due to unfinished business. Few other Ministers stand out in this government, though the same might be said of the shadow spokesmen.
Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary, after various flip flops on Free schools which made him look opportunistic and a tad confused, (he tends to think out loud which gets him into trouble) showed a deft touch in backing military style schools, a policy championed by ResPublica (and to some extent the Centre for Policy Studies) which was close to Cameron, certainly on matters related to the Big Society. Cameron’s problems with his own backbenchers are simmering as they want him to make a principled stand on something, though Cameron loyalists fume that the imperatives of coalition government tie his hands. Possibly true, but critics suggest that that Cameron was hard to fathom before the election in terms of his core beliefs and values. Defining Camerons political narrative has always been something of a challenge. The issue of boundary changes affecting all MPs will not go away-and if this is not resolved it will probably, as things stand, seal the fate of the Tories and Liberal Democrats in the next election (ie they will be pretty pushed to stay in office-its estimated that the Tories for example need a 10% lead in the polls to secure a sound majority).
At some point Tories realise that they will have to create distance, or clear blue water, between themselves and the Liberal Democrats in preparation for an election.
David Laws a talented politician, caught out by an error of judgement, might well re-join Ministerial ranks as part of any future reshuffle. Liberal Democrat ranks are, as it happens, not overburdened with potential ministers.
These are fascinating times and the Opposition, as things stand can simply observe from the sidelines, as the Coalition suffers internecine strife ,and consolidate its lead in the polls. So much political capital and goodwill has been used up on Lords reform that one wonders whether the Coalition has actually lost touch with what really matters to the electorate and on what they will be judged at the next election-their stewardship of the economy.
Hot Tip-Baroness Warsi will be moved and there will be some pretty fundamental re jigging at the top of the Tory party.
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
- INSPECTING ACADEMY CHAINS-ON THE AGENDA
- Careers advice and Guidance
- Charity Status
- Charter School
- Coalition Education Policy
- Conservative policy
- Discipline and Truancy
- early years learning
- education market
- education quangos
- education reform
- Free schools
- higher education
- Home Education
- independent schools
- primary schools
- Public Services Reform
- published letters
- Pupil Support
- quality assurance
- quality assurance and inspection
- school governance
- secondary schools
- Secure Estate
- SPECIAL NEEDS
- teachers and teaching
- Think tanks
- us education system
- Youth policy