Cam Sham - The Truth Behind a PM PR Visit

Violet Berlin's picture
I hope it's okay to just come on here and recommend the posting of another blog (not written by me) - but this story of a recent PM PR visit to a state school is a wonderful snapshot:

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Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 16:12

I saw the clips on the news last night. My immediate thought was, what a beautiful new school building. Then I realised it was probably built by the last Labour government under a scheme now branded a failure by Cameron and Gove.

Toby Young's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 16:42

I see your former colleague from Number 10, Peter Hyman, is starting a free school along with Oli de Botton, a former member of David Miliband's campaign team. Bit odd if, as Ed Balls maintains, free schools are "the most socially divisive education experiment for 60 years".

Could it be that the Labour Party is coming round to free schools? Might be the right time for you to start supporting them publicly, particularly as I understand you're supporting the Institute of Education's free school in Camden privately.

For more details on the New Labour free school see here:

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 16:56

Well perhaps Hyman and Young should read the post about how Sweden is having to re-think it's free school policy posted here and see the future.

It will be interesting to see how successful the four that are actually opening will be. Some (the DfE won't say how many) will apparently open this September but don't have money, buildings so are still theoretical although theory won't be much comfort to those children expecting places at a school that won't be opening it doors.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 17:38

I would certainly support a free school which works with the local community, has community admissions, and aims to lift the achievements of our poorest children. The worry is that the policy as a whole does the opposite...

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 18:17

Just for the record, I am not supporting or involved with any free school projects, privately or publicly.

Violet Berlin's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 19:21

Oi Toby, why are you hijacking my viewpoints entry? I didn't mention free schools or yourself, so perhaps it would have been more appropriate to start your own thread if you want to change the topic.

Nigel Ford's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 20:20

"So it must have been to see the amazing percussion ensemble (inc my extremely talented daughter, of course) play..."

No blowing the trumpet there then.

Naomi Bos's picture
Wed, 11/05/2011 - 21:37

This is just random. I don't get why a) any mention of schools has Toby Young popping up and blahing about free schools and b) other people taking a tongue in cheek mother's pride quip too seriously - it is a light hearted blog!
PS I did not write the blog - I enjoyed it though!

Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 12/05/2011 - 06:14

I enjoyed it too - lets see more examples of parent bloggers!

John Davies's picture
Thu, 19/05/2011 - 15:28

This is the detail of a meeting of Reform the right wing pressure group - please note the date and the members - no practitioners.
I have notified the Anti Academies Alliance and they may send representatives]


Dear Sir/Madam

I keep getting these invitations from Reform the Tory pressure group - this may be of interest note the contributors

No teachers but loads of consultants - I am a retired teacher would not want to go anyway, maybe you would like to attend- en masse ?

Reform & AQA
Raising the bar: Making England’s teachers the best in the world

Reform and AQA are delighted to invite you to a major policy conference:

“Raising the bar: Making England’s teachers the best in the world”

Birkbeck University London
32 Torrington Square

Tuesday 28 June 2011

The Coalition Government has announced its desire to improve standards in schools and its November 2010 White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, acknowledges that a focus on improving the quality of teaching will be essential to improving schools’ outcomes. As the White Paper argues: “All the evidence from different education systems around the world shows that the most important factor in determining how well children do is the quality of teachers and teaching.”

The Government has already taken numerous steps including abolishing the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) and the General Teaching Council for England (GTC), reforming teacher training and launching a review of teachers’ professional standards. The academies and free schools programmes are creating a more autonomous school system in which the expertise and professionalism of teachers will become even more important. How does the teaching profession need to develop within this new framework? How should teacher training for new and existing teachers be adapted? What role will there be, if any, for central government and national agencies in driving teachers’ professional development?

This timely conference will discuss the future of the teaching profession and continuing professional development (CPD), bringing together practitioners, academics and policymakers to consider both UK experience and international best practice. AQA and Reform believe this debate is central to enabling teaching professionals to improve outcomes and value for money in schools. This event will be a key moment to inform and influence the national debate.

Confirmed speakers include:

Nick Gibb MP
Minister of State for Schools

Sally Coates
Principal, Burlington Danes Academy and Chair, Teachers’ Standards Review Group

Professor Chris Husbands
Director, Institute of Education

Brian Lightman
General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders

Professor Bill Boyle
School of Education, University of Manchester

Beatriz Pont
Directorate for Education, OECD

Andrew Hall
Chief Executive, AQA

Tickets for the event are priced at £50 per person (free for Reform Associates, Partners and Corporate Partners; limited free places for practising teachers).

Register your interest at Please be aware that places at this event are limited and attendance will be confirmed by email.

Provisional programme:

08.30-09.00 Breakfast

09.00-09.05 Welcome

09.05-09.15 Introduction
An outline of AQA’s research findings on international CPD models by Andrew Hall, Chief Executive, AQA

09.15-10.00 Nick Gibb MP keynote speech
A keynote speech by the Minister of State for Schools

10.00-11.00 21st century CPD: Learning from international best practice
The Government has set out its intention to improve the quality of teaching. The White Paper sets out a number of ideas on how to do this, particularly on how to raise the calibre of those entering the profession. However the existing 450,000-strong workforce also requires excellent continuing professional development to continue to improve the standard of education. This session will explore the latest thinking around teachers’ CPD and consider the lessons held by the most effective international best practice for English teachers.

11.00-11.20 Coffee

11.20-12.20 Who should lead the teaching profession?
Alongside its focus on improving teaching, the Government wishes to increase schools’, headteachers’ and teachers’ autonomy. The slimming down of the National Curriculum, Ofsted’s inspection criteria and the professional standards are intended to give teachers more freedom over how they teach in their classroom. Decisions such as abolishing the TDA and GTC may highlight a potential void of national leadership for improving teaching. This session will consider who should lead teachers as they strive to become increasingly professional and to develop their expertise.

12.20-12.30 Closing remarks

12.30-13.00 Lunch


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