I spoke at an open meeting last night in North London, organised by the Labour Party, but with members and non members alike in the audience. It was a good discussion about the policies of the last government, this government and the implications of the Academies Act and White Paper. There was a strong consensus about the need for a bigger political vision for education than any party is offering at the moment. One which revolves not just around standards but includes the role schools play in their local communities and which has at its heart the very positive message that we should be creating networks of good local schools, broadly similar and uniformly excellent, rather than expecting parents to choose between vastly different institutions when it comes to results, intake, facilities and curriculum.
Giving parents the confidence to choose their existing local schools should be a central message from government, rather than what now appears to be a mission to increase parental anxiety by subtly implying that the local school isn't good enough so parents should be starting their own alternative provision.
There was some dismay about the last Labour government's reluctance to celebrate comprehensive education, what it has achieved and what it can still achieve in the future. Very few people had read or heard the Shadow Education Minister Andy Burnham's recent speech on the comprehensive ideal, so I am linking to it here
as I think it contains an important and positive message for future campaigning.
The principle that schools should, as far as possible, include children of all abilities , is one I hope we can hold on to. Remember that the alternative to a real comprehensive system ( which we don't yet have in this country) is a fully selective system. In spite of the myths peddled about the so called 'golden age ' of grammar schools, the divide at 11 failed many children, and most were from poorer backgrounds.
What we have now is a mish mash of comprehensive, secondary modern and selective schools. So let's hear it again for the comprehensive ideal and a 'revolution' that isn't yet finished!