Thursday News Review

Gove announces schools shake up

Tough new powers to stop pupils repeatedly re-sitting GCSEs and A-levels. New moves to make it harder for potential recruits to enter teaching, and easier to get rid of those who do. Fines for schools who wrongly exclude pupils, plus a responsibility to ensure any expelled pupils continue to get a full-time education.These are the key planks of the biggest educational upheaval for more than two decades which was announced yesterday by Education Secretary Michael Gove in his much-trailed government White Paper. – The Independent

Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers’ union NASUWT, said: “We are seeing a vicious assault by the secretary of state on teachers’ commitment and professionalism. We are now witnessing the plans for another lost generation of young people.” The Association of Teachers and Lecturers said Mr Gove was dismantling state education and Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham said the “elitist” reforms would create a two-tier system. Mr Gove laughed off spelling “bureaucracy” wrongly on the Commons statement. He justified the error by saying his “eyes glaze over” when he sees the word. – The Mirror

Mr Gove’s contradictory instincts take tangible form in his attitude to spending on school sports. Suddenly there is no “We will…” driving his approach. Instead he is dropping the ring- fenced cash that was targeted on sport. No doubt ring-fencing of cash has a sinister ring to it. It sounds indiscriminately proscriptive to those, including most in the Coalition, that regard the state with extreme wariness. But ring-fencing is a highly effective way of targeting tax payers’ money on a particular worthy cause and making sure the cash is spent productively. In this case head teachers popped up on the airwaves to say, whether the money was ring-fenced or not, they would continue to spend it on sports, only the cash was being scrapped altogether. – The Independent

SCHOOL sport co-ordinators have invited the Education Secretary to Bristol to see first-hand the work of the partnerships he wants to scrap. They believe the decision by Michael Gove to cut the £162-million funding for School Sport Partnerships will have a “devastating effect” on the sporting opportunities for young people in Bristol. And they claim hundreds of events will no longer take place if the £750,000 funding for the three SSPs in the city is pulled, as planned, in March. SSPs cover every school in the country. Each one consists of a sports college or academy, secondary, primary and special schools, working together to develop sport opportunities for young people. – Bristol Evening Post

Ed vs. Dave

For the first time this week, Miliband split his questions into two halves, so after three questions on school sport, he returned with three questions on bank transparency, the issue currently dividing Vince Cable and George Osborne. In defiance of Cable, the Prime Minister suggested that the government would wait for pan-European agreement on pay transparency, rather than going it alone. Adopting an unnecessarily haughty tone, Cameron said he would listen to regulation expert David Walker, rather than Miliband, who “knows nothing about anything”. But for the second time, the PM had been forced to gloss over all-too-obvious divisions in his cabinet. – The New Statesman

Mr Miliband did fine while he was on his feet: his worst moment came a few minutes after he sat down, when Mr Cameron said of him: “The Leader of the Opposition has two policies on tax, the graduate tax and the 50p tax, and his shadow Chancellor does not agree with either.” Alan Johnson, the shadow Chancellor, turned red, while Mr Miliband turned white. We trust that one day they will learn to harmonise their response to Mr Cameron, but for the time being the momentum remains overwhelmingly with the Coalition Government. And yet the Tory benches are not entirely content. Bill Cash (C, Stone) raised an issue which could yet cause Mr Cameron as much grief as it caused John Major: “Will my right honourable friend explain why at every turn — the City of London, the investigation order, economic governance of Europe and the stabilisation mechanism — the Coalition Government under his premiership are acquiescing in more European integration, not less?” – The Telegraph

Not exactly a vintage PMQs today. Initially I thought it a win for Ed Miliband, but after some reflection I’m not so sure. More like a draw. Ed Miliband did fine. It’s not just commentators who think he hasn’t exactly hit the ground running (it’s more a case of his having hit the ground strolling). So the Labour leader needed to put in a solid performance. He managed it, splitting his six questions into two batches. On the government’s plans to change school sports he scored a hit. Although if the cuts involve axing cross-country running at school I bet pupils will be delighted. Then the pair tangled on the government supposedly soft-peddling on measures to enforce transparency on bankers’ bonuses. – Wall Street Journal

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