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School building won't stop under the Coalition, insists Gove, but Labour's wasteful programme had to end

In an article for The Sunday Express Michael Gove has come out fighting after his difficult week.

He reminds us of Labour's educational failures:

  • Across-the-board failure: "Over the past 10 years this country has slipped from fourth in the world to 14th for the quality of our science education, seventh to 17th for literacy and eighth to 24th for maths."
  • Poor children still left behind: "In the last year for which we’ve got figures just 45 children from the poorest homes got to Oxbridge. That’s out of 80,000 children on free school meals in a year group. More children from private schools such as St Paul’s, where Harriet Harman was educated, go to our best universities than children from our poorest homes."

He then lists some of his early actions:

  • Rigour in exam standards: "I announced that we would reform A-levels so they’re proper “gold standard” exams as good as the best tests in the world" and "We’ll also allow all state schools to offer the International GCSE, a prestigious exam that private schools have offered their pupils and that helped give those young people a head start in the qualifications race."
  • Disciplinary powers for teachers: "We’ve given teachers the power to search for and confiscate items such as mobile phones and mini-camcorders, which trouble-makers have used to disrupt learning. We also gave clearer powers to teachers to use force if necessary to maintain order and we scrapped the silly rule which meant that heads had to wait 24 hours before they could impose a detention on poorly behaved pupils."
  • Better teachers for disadvantaged communities: "We would be doubling the number of graduates from top universities who would be joining a new scheme to put top teachers in our most deprived schools" and "We are pledging to introduce a pupil premium, a top-up for the poorest pupils in every school so we can have more personalised teaching to help every child achieve."

These changes are in addition to his two more radical moves; the invitation to hundreds of schools to become Academies and his invitation to parents, co-operatives and faith communities to establish new, taxpayer-funded schools.

He also reassures that there will be new school buildings under the Coalition but Ed Balls' bureaucratic, wasteful building programme had to stop:

"We will of course continue to invest in school buildings and hope to help people in all those areas who feel disappointed now. We will make sure there are more places for primary pupils and help schools in serious need of repair. School building will not stop under this Government. What we do want to do is review the way we build schools so we can do it more quickly, efficiently and target money at the schools most in need. We can’t do that if we’re handcuffed to Labour’s wasteful, failed scheme."

Tim Montgomerie


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