John Dunford’s Election Blog, Monday 10 May

This blog is reposted here from John’s 2010 election blog for ASCL

Like the election, this blog is lasting longer than expected but, with Conservative-Liberal Democrat talks continuing into a third day, I looked again at their respective education policies.

They agree on the need for a pupil premium (although the Conservatives haven’t said how they will pay for it, so the two parties may disagree about that), the need to reform league tables and Ofsted (although their recipes are very different), expansion of Teach First and the graduate teacher programme, tackling bullying and improving discipline (but the specific policies are different). They are also agreed on not adopting Labour’s ideas of a school report card, pupil and parent guarantees and the licence to practise.

They disagree on the future of key stage 2 tests and the way in which the national curriculum should be reformed, although they agree on the need for reform. They disagree on the future of diplomas. Most fundamentally, they agree on the idea of having new providers of schools, but whereas the Tories would set these schools free, the LibDems would bring them under local authority control. This contrast on the role of local authorities is also evident in their respective policies on academies.

There is a simple way to resolve the bargaining between the two potential political partners on which education policies to adopt. A LibCon government, or a minority Tory administration supported by the LibDems, should restrict new policy making to the areas on which they agree. In that way, schools and colleges could concentrate on the core job of raising standards and the government could take the credit for it.

The government can hardly claim credit for the 2010 results (although that might not stop them doing so) and there might be another election before the next set of results. So let’s have some policies to cheer us all up in the meantime. As well as ‘Troops to Teachers’, let’s make the most of a new group of recently unemployed and have ‘ex-MPs to teachers’. They could even set up their own small schools in duckhouses, surrounded by a moat to keep the attendance figures high.

Or the new government could implement my favourite manifesto commitment – the Monster Raving Loony Party’s pledge to fit all bright children with dimmer switches.

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