Ed on Ed: the subtly shifting Labour narrative on schools

Melissa Benn's picture
In the end, perhaps, it passed with more of a whimper than a bang. Or rather, the bang was elsewhere – with the question of Tory tax evasion, especially as Ed Miliband chose to use the closing passages of his schools speech late last week to follow up on the Fink question. (Fair enough – more tax equals more public spending.)

As for the substance of the Labour leader’s first major statement on schools in a long time, the press focused on class sizes and later, on the comparative spending promises of the big parties. (The person to trust on this is our very own Henry Stewart of our very own Local Schools Network, here and here.)

But Ed on ed is worth a closer look for other reasons, in particular the subtly changing Labour narrative on schools, an area the new Labour leadership has had real difficulty with during the Gove years. Here, buried beneath the required talk of aspiration and skills for a global economy, were some welcome messages about what a Miliband government might actually do.

Ed has always been very proud, and vocally so, of his comprehensive education and, if memory serves me right, this was one of several speeches he has chosen to give at his old school, Haverstock. (It amused me the way that a couple of reporters gingerly described it as “Haverstock comprehensive” – I mean, can you imagine them writing of Cameron that he gave a speech from “Eton private school?”).

For all Ed’s personal commitment, Labour still can’t claim comprehensive education for itself, as it does the NHS, when, for all their problems, both public services should be natural territory for the party of One Nation. Andy Burnham has said that his biggest regret as shadow education secretary during the early manic Gove period, was not to champion comprehensive education.

 But things have shifted in interesting ways over the last four years. Not least, the right of the Tory party has claimed non-selective excellence for its own. Key figures like Jonathan Simons of Policy Exchange or Sam Freedman, former adviser to Gove, may welcome “diverse providers” or even full-blown privatisation, but they passionately believe that far from advancing social mobility, academic selection merely entrenches existing advantage. Gove, Freedman has claimed, “normalised comprehensive education for the Tory party”.

All this helps Ed to lay the foundations of a new, more confident, Labour education policy. So, too, does the visible failure of the Gove bus – I rather like the current NUT hash tag on this theme, #thewheelscomeoff – and the destructive stand-off between the teaching profession and Gove that finally did for the erudite, excitable ex-minister.

This leaves some sensible mainstream themes for Labour to pick up and run with, including the need for qualified teachers (duh!), continued professional development, planning for need in terms of new school provision, proper careers advice, and keeping class sizes at 30.  

At the same time, there is a shift away from the axioms of the New Labour years. Yes, Miliband namechecks the original city academies but he is unequivocally critical of the expensive and wasteful academy conversion and free school programmes of the Gove years.

He goes even further by saying that the answer does not lie in structural reform but in world class teaching, a broad and balanced curriculum, and local not central oversight. All the elements, in fact, of a good local school – if not a terribly exciting speech. He is also very good on the ways that the hastily imposed eBacc has led to the tragic abandonment by many schools of arts options when all the evidence shows that a good arts education boosts academic attainment.

No mention, either, of the role of local authorities in education, another long standing negative touchstone for Labour, but Miliband is robust about the need for local oversight and collaboration. Enter the Blunkett plan for a new Director of School standards, a kind of supra local authority position.

It was a shame he didn't mention the urgent issue of teacher workload nor tackle the question of fair admissions, a growing problem, as more and more schools with their renowned “freedoms” are able to pick and choose the pupils to teach. And, of course, no word on the disgracefully divisive 11-plus in 15 selective authorities, with its catastrophic implications for the education of poorer children in those areas.

This piece first appeared in the New Statesman early this week.
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Patrick Hadley's picture
Wed, 18/02/2015 - 07:32

The Labour party should not be forgiven for starting the privatisation of our schools. Would the Conservatives have been able to get away with this policy had it not been started by Labour?

With most of our secondary schools already privatised it will be very easy indeed for a future Conservative government to end all local control of education. Selection at eleven could be introduced everywhere by a stroke of the Secretary of State's pen, and there would be nothing that anyone will be able to do about it.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 18/02/2015 - 08:21

Patrick - I share your opinion about Labour's academies - too much emphasis on one over-hyped and potentially disastrous policy while others (eg London Challenge) have not been followed through.

However, I don't think a future Tory government would introduce selection universally because:

1 The pro-grammar school lobby are a noisy minority. A YouGov poll for the Times in November 2014 found just 38% agreed the Government should encourage more schools to select by academic ability and build more grammar schools, 20% said existing grammar schools should remain but no more should be built while a further 26% said existing grammars should become comprehensive. 17% weren’t sure.

2 The 75% of parents whose children wouldn't be selected and which would be labelled as 'failures' and second-best at 11 might not be very supportive. It used to be said in the days when parents lobbied for comprehensive education that parents were always in favour of selection until their own children failed.

3 The cost and logistics. Which should would become the new grammars and which the new secondary moderns (sorry, non-selective schools)? What if there's only one comprehensive secondary locally - how would it be possible to provide two schools? If a school in one town was deemed 'grammar' while the one in another town is 'non-selective', then this would result in bussing children around at the expense of local taxpayers.

Andy V's picture
Wed, 18/02/2015 - 08:29

Sadly, and despite the breadth of the top piece, there are few if any concrete manifesto undertakings that tangibly change Labour's education policy. Blunkett's recommendations for a quasi local authority oversight structure is centrally driven. The Academy option would continue. The only (albeit welcome) change to Free Schools is that they could only be proposed in areas of demographic need. Teachers to undergo competency to teach reviews every 3-5 years. Teachers to take a form of Hippocratic style oath.

So essentially, on examination of Labour's pronouncements there is little to no substance and an awful lot of soundbite rhetoric (aka political blustering, implied promises and hot air).

How on earth is anyone that cherishes and cares about education to decide how to vote? Is it more of the same or a vote for, well, essentially, more of the same with even tighter stress inducing scrutiny of teachers through regular competency MOTs, but without demonstrable leadership under Labour.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 18/02/2015 - 08:49

Andy - the Greens' education policy looks interesting. However, some Green policy is bonkers (saying it's OK to join ISIS, for example) and the Greens haven't got sufficient support to return MPs to Westminster. Also, some of it imposes its own ideas on schools. As much as I support mixed-ability teaching, it should be up to schools whether to set for some subjects.

I'd like to see Labour endorsing the NUT manifesto for education.

Nigel Ford's picture
Wed, 18/02/2015 - 14:54

I note that several comps and 6th form state colleges can compete with public schools in terms of their A'level results because they have a minimum GCSE admissions code for entry, not dissimilar to their public school counterparts.

Although I am opposed to selection criteria at 11, if we can point to high standards that state comps/colleges are delivering, (the results at DurhamJohnston School in Durham are superb) is this not a good thing?

Patrick Hadley's picture
Wed, 18/02/2015 - 16:16

Is it a good thing? Yes and no.

If a sixth form college is setting very high standards then that is of course a good thing for the students concerned. However if the college is so worried about its average grade score that it refuses admission to students who are unlikely to achieve A grades then that is probably a bad thing.

Compare two colleges - College A takes in a broad range of ability and gives all its entrants the chance to stay for two years to complete their course.

College B is highly selective and only accepts students likely to get top grades, and also kicks out any students whose performance level drops during the first year.

College B will certainly do better in the league tables and be able to boast about its high standards. It is likely to be a magnet for the more able students and have a great reputation in its area; but it is quite possible that most students would do better going to College A.

Patrick Hadley's picture
Wed, 18/02/2015 - 16:30

Janet, I agree that re-introducing grammar schools would seem to be an unpopular policy, but I still think that it is almost inevitable that selection at 11 is going to be widespread in this country before very long.

After all if anyone had done a poll on whether our schools should be privatised fifteen years ago, I am sure that this would have been very unpopular. Therefore privatisation had to be brought in by the back door by Tony Blair, who never told anyone that he was privatising schools, he was just creating "academies". Labour supporters should be ashamed of allowing a supposed "Labour" government to do this to our schools.

What will happen over selection is that gradually the regulations about school admissions will be amended. I expect that this can be done by changing the Statutory Instruments attached to the Education Acts, and that no primary legislation will be be needed, just a stroke of the Secretary of State's pen.

I doubt if anyone will say that an academy is being changed into a grammar school, instead it will be allowed to select on the grounds of ability in order to meet "local needs". And there will be absolutely nothing that anyone can do about it because these privatised schools are free from all democratic control.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 19/02/2015 - 16:54

One area that urgently needs tackling is school admissions especially now Dame Sally Coates has revealed the ways schools can get round the admission code by selecting for aptitude ('smokescreen for selecting by ability'), evidence of religious faith and rigging fair banding tests.

Andy V's picture
Thu, 19/02/2015 - 17:07

Perhaps Messrs Blair and Clegg - among others - could offer their expert knowledge on this issue to help close the loopholes?

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 09:44

Patrick - the College B scenario seems to be what happened at the London Academy of Excellence.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 09:53

Andy - re admissions. Gove (or Mrs Gove) submitted a successful application to The Grey Coat Hospital School for their daughter despite its admission criteria when the application was submitted obviously flouting the Admission Code Gove brought in. The Schools Adjudicator formally censured the school.

It's reported that Cameron is seeking a place for his daughter at the Grey Coat. It's got good GCSE results. But that should be expected when the GCSE cohort in 2014 had 57% previously-high attainers and only 4% (just 6 pupils) who were previously low-attaining.

It's supposed to be 'comprehensive'. Maybe Dame Sally could suggest how the Grey Coat manages to deter so many low-attaining pupils.

Andy V's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 10:04

Gosh, how the elite are dipping into ordinary citizenship! No Eton entry for young Miss Cameron ... :-)

The ability imbalance still leaves 39% middle ability attainers, which is higher than some others I've seen on the DFE School Performance website. Perhaps the schools strategic improvement plan contains a goal of further increasing the imbalance in favour of high ability at the expense of the middle ability but leaving a token low ability group? ;-D

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 10:10

Andy - but middle-attainers can range from those just short of being high-attainers and those who are near the bottom. Some grammars claim to have middle attainers but they would still have passed the 11+.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 13:27

Melissa - We should not forget Sir Michael Wilshaw's strong and unequivocal support for comprehensive schools. As he is the Chief Inspector of Schools appointed by the Conservative-led government this should count for rather a lot.

Patrick - You are right of course that Blair's Academy legislation (opposed by a majority of Labour MPs, I think, - correct me if I am wrong someone please) laid the foundation without which present government education policies could not have been built. There were parallel mistakes by Labour in the NHS - Foundation Trusts (also opposed by a majority of Labour MPs, I think) and PFI schemes.

However what is Ed Milliband to do about this? The shift in policy that Melissa detects is a start, but he needs to go further and admit that mistakes were made, including in relation to Labour's first wave of sponsored academies. However, he will need to have a much needed word in the ear of Tristram Hunt first.

Labour is constantly attacked for causing the 2008 financial crash. The cause was hopelessly lax regulation of the banking sector, for which the government must take its share of the blame. However, was the Conservative opposition calling for tighter regulation? It was not. It was criticising Labour for not loosening regulation further. I would like to see Ed pointing this out at PMQs and on other occasions that the mantra is trumpeted.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 13:51

There is what I believe to be a simple and rational response to Andy's question that I know he doesn't accept. It is certain that the outcome of the General Election will be one of four possibilities.

1. A majority Labour government
2. A Labour-led Coalition
3. A majority Conservative government
4. A Conservative-led Coalition

It is surely obvious that possibilities 1 and 2 at least open the door to the further development of education policy in the direction that most of the regular LSN contributors support. Support for the NUT policies (very similar to my step by step programme set out in 'Learning Matters') would indeed be a good start, as Janet suggests.

Outcomes 3 and 4 completely close off any such possibilities. The Lib Dems have provided little if any challenge to the main thrust of government education policies and have completely swallowed the Academies/Free Schools lies, which only leaves UKIP and the Ulster Unionists as possible partners. Enough said.

So the rational answer to the question of who to support in the General Election seems obvious. It is to vote Labour and argue for Labour, while throwing as much pressure and evidence based argument as possible in the direction of Ed Milliband and those that are running the Labour campaign.

Is this certain to fail as many LSN contributors assert (with whom I otherwise agree)?

Melissa suggests not.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 14:10

I read this with interest. I don't think she understands 'fair banding' at all. The best reference source is probably Part 4 of 'Learning Matters'. Certainly Fair Banding on the Hackney model cannot be rigged. The process is run by the Hackney LA with the consent of all the schools involved.

However, there is no doubt that in poor areas Academies and Free Schools (the only schools that can adopt banded admissions unilaterally regardless of the interests of neighbouring LA schools) will, indeed should, always out compete neighbouring LA schools with proximity-based admission policies.

This is from 'Learning Matters', where the fate of Hackney Downs school is analysed in Section 4.7.

"Let us consider a hypothetical history for Hackney Downs school [the Mossbourne Academy predecessor], situated at the centre of an area of poor housing and social deprivation. Let us further assume that levels of affluence rise further away from the location of the school.

It is not difficult to accept that deprived areas produce a higher proportion of problem pupils (C1.4, 4.8). However even the poorest areas produce some higher ability pupils and universal CAT testing can find them. The first Mossbourne Principal, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has been proved correct in his confidence that a good comprehensive school with effective teaching can overcome disadvantages that arise from relative poverty.

He has thus provided a great service to the principle of comprehensive education when much of the right wing media and most of the Conservative party are only too ready to blame comprehensive schools for declining standards. He is also right in insisting that it is much easier to provide educational opportunities across the ability range if the school contains the full ability range.

Let us now assume that at one time, back at the start of the league table system in the early 1990s, Hackney Downs was a popular, oversubscribed school (it does not matter for the sake of the following argument whether this is true or not). One of the reasons for such success might have been a good local record for Special Needs teaching encouraging recruitment from its immediate locality, which provided an especially rich source of such pupils.

Despite this, more affluent parents from areas of more expensive housing further away, impressed by the school’s good reputation for effective teaching, were still happy to seek places at the school.

But if Hackney Downs’ applications had risen to exceed the places available then the LA’s oversubscription criteria would have been applied and as an LA controlled school Hackney Downs would have had no control over the effects of the LA’s General Admissions Policy whose dominant provision would have been proximity to the school.

So the parents living nearest, where there were greater proportions of children with Special Needs and lower proportions of more able children, would have had priority over more affluent parents living further away, where the incidence of Special Needs was less and a greater proportion of children were more able.

Furthermore, the more over-subscribed Hackney Downs might have become, the more that less-able, more local children would have filled the school, denying places to the less problematic children of more affluent parents that lived further away. It would not have taken long within the league table culture for this process to have destroyed any lingering good reputation the school may have had and for its inevitable slide down the league tables to destroy its popularity with parents.

This does not have to have been the actual history of Hackney Downs to understand that whatever policies the school had adopted it could not have avoided the fate described [in the Independent article]. League tables make it inevitable that LA schools geographically located at the centre of areas of high social deprivation with proximity based admission policies would have eventually failed to meet ‘floor targets’, and under the ‘zero tolerance of failure’ policy of New Labour, become candidates for closure and replacement by new banded Academies that could avoid admitting the problem pupils.

It is unbanded Academies located like Mossbourne in poor areas, but whose sponsors and managers believed that the invigorating effect of a commercial sponsor applying the purgative rigour of the free market would be sufficient to secure transformations, that have proved to be the least successful, especially with the demise of the ‘vocational equivalent scam’ (3.3, 3.4, 3.5) that appeared to provide protection, albeit to the ultimate disadvantage of their pupils.

Sir Michael Wilshaw and his co-founders of Mossbourne were therefore very wise to take the banding route to success. There is nothing unreasonable or educationally undesirable about this decision."

Roger Titcombe's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 14:13

The preceding refers to Janet's post of 19/02/15 at 4.54pm

Andy V's picture
Fri, 20/02/2015 - 14:19

If people took the time to both read and give due consideration to what I said it would be clear that the question being posed was a dilemma, and the latter was because there is so very,very little difference between the 2 main parties on education or the parties likely to form a coalition.

What I did not do was bring party political bias to the thread. Rather I carefully trod the neutral ground.

But, hey, for those that need it reiterating let me be bluntly and starkly candid. I do not support any politician or political party with educational policy or the direction of education in this country. Furthermore, and I had said this before on LSN, I believe this country has been politically bankrupt for several decades and simply have no trust in politicians or their parties. That includes, economically, foreign policy etc alongside education and over the last 30 years in particular the NHS.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 12:18

TH: “… and what we know makes the real difference in schools is the strength of leadership and the quality of teaching. I went to a school in Sedgefield recently that was under requires improvement and over four terms it went to good and that was because of getting a great head teacher in and a great quality of teaching, not changing the structural nature of that school. We’re gonna need academies in parts of our country but we shouldn’t think that that’s the easy answer to the challenge we face in our school system. “

Interviewer: “But isn’t it right that if some schools that are not performing as they should then there should be some sanction offered against them?”

TH: “But the question isn’t about sanctions, the questions about results for pupils and as a select report committee said last week there’s no evidence to suggest that simply converting a school from a maintained or local authority status to an academy status improves the results for young people and look the real challenge we face in our schools isn’t necessarily at our primary level, actually our primaries are doing pretty well. Our real challenge is in the early years of secondary where we are letting young people down in terms of continuing the attainment that they need to make and what the Labour party thinks is that the best way to deal with that is to have really high quality teaching in the classroom, and I think your viewers will be shocked to know that under this government we are seeing more and more unqualified teachers in our schools who are lowering standards and under the Tories the gap young people on free school meals and disadvantaged pupils and their better off peers is growing. So if we want our country to succeed all young people will need to do well and this government is letting them down.”

Length: 1minute 32 seconds

(vid clip running order: Cameron, Morgan, Young, Hunt)

Tristram Hunt’s comments demonstrate a truly superficial - to the point of triteness - his (and ergo presumably his party’s) understanding regarding education. The content is as ridden with inaccuracies as Cameron’s party promotional speech at Kingsmead. For example, he appears to be against the removal of HTs in grade 3 schools but lauds the progress of the /Sedgefield school that got “in a great new head teacher”. He went on to imply that “a great quality of teaching” can somehow be magically brought in or imported. He states the profoundly obvious about the need for strong leadership and quality teaching and doesn’t acknowledge the coalition’s document, The Importance of Teaching, published in Dec 10 on exactly this and a lot more. He affirms the continuance of academies. He fails to mention free schools. He makes an unequivocal statement and causal connection between about the government allowing more unqualified teachers into the classroom and that this is causing pupils results / attainment to fall. To the best of my knowledge there is no evidence linking a fall in attainment and the use of unqualified teachers. Yes, there have been one or two faith-based free schools that have hit the headlines and have been criticised both for poor provision to support NQTs and over reliance on UQTs but countrywide the picture is one that does not support his assertion. Even worse is his uncorroborated statement linking a widening gap between PP pupils and non-PP pupils to the increasing use of UQTs.

On this basis he could forge a wonderful career as a journalist and even rival Mr Marr :-D. As has been commented elsewhere, very many of them are not overly endowed with the skills of research for understanding what they report either. I suppose one should be grateful that he didn’t return to his refrains on competency MOTs for teachers or the latter swearing an Hippocratic style oath as remedies to school and teacher performance.

Between the speech and comments made by Cameron and Hunt I am given absolutely no reason to change my position regarding the safety of education in the hands or self-interested career politicians, let alone be promoted to vote for any of them.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 12:39

Andy - While I agree with your general comments about Hunt, and the failure of Labour to really understand a great many educational issues, there is a very real difference between the Labour and Conservative positions.

The Conservatives want to impose Academies as a matter of misplaced ideology. They wish to use OfSTED inspections as a mechanism for spreading academisation (ie privatisation) across the entire English education system.

Not only do Labour not want to do this, Labour is steadily moving to a position of increasing scepticism about the whole Academy and Free School movement. LSN is helping them on this journey. There is still a long way to go but the 'least worst' option that is moving in the right direction is surely highly preferable to the 'truly dire' option that is moving in the wrong direction.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 12:40

And in the same vein, I would much rather have the BBC and Andrew Marr than Fox News.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 12:42

Each to their own.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 12:52

Andy - it appears politicians just can't resist making trite political points. Hunt starts off with a verifiable fact - there's no evidence that changing the structure of a school raises performance alone. But then he moves on to say it's just down to a good head. But it isn't. Even Dame Sally Coates, writing about her book 'Headstrong', lists other features of a good school including such things as 'Great teachers who enjoy autonomy in the classroom' and Positive and caring ethos, developed through assemblies and student/staff interaction'.

These things might not chime with an executive principal who wants things done his (or her) way and is willing to lean on staff (eg bully) in order to impose a particular 'vision'.

Leadership is important, of course, but it's the kind of leadership that works by mutual respect and persuasion not by acting dictatorially.

Re non-QTS teachers. The data:

2.6% of teachers in LA maintained schools are non-QTS
4.9% of teachers in academies are non-QTS
18.9% of teachers in free schools are non-QTS.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 13:15

Thanks for the data re UQTs but it doesn't evidence:

1. A direct causal link with reduced or falling pupil attainment
2. A direct causal link with a growing attainment gap between PP and non-PP pupils

This direct unequivocal statement by TH is worse than spin, worse than disingenuity. Without the evidence it is a shabby shameful lie and a deliberate attack on the public perception of and in schools. In its own way it demonises UQTs per se and blindly undermines those using it as route into teaching to gain full QTS.

With respect he doesn't say improvement is down to "just a good head". He states that it was "because of getting a great head teacher in and a great quality of teaching", with both of these magically parachuted in, and whereas it is of course possible to locate and employ senior colleagues with appropriate skill sets and experience one simply cannot do the same with "teaching".

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 14:14

Andy - the data was for information only. I wasn't claiming any link with pupil attainment - just presenting facts.

There's nothing wrong with unqualified teachers in school as part of their training. I did three stints on teaching practice as part of my training. And I wasn't a fully-qualified teacher until I'd done my probationary year.

What is wrong is schools employing non-QTS teachers who aren't following an accredited teacher training course and passing them of as 'teachers'. They aren't. They're cheaper, of course, and are more likely to follow centrally-dictated ways of working or curricula without question even when these are not in the best interests of their pupils.

The question of non-QTS is covered briefly here and in more detail in our book, School Myths: And the Evidence That Blows Them Apart.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 14:55

Andy - I know a little bit about the challenges facing an untrained teacher because I was once one myself. My first job was at a Staffordshire comprehensive in 1971 as an 'untrained graduate'.

Prior to that, on leaving university I became a metallurgist working at the Nelson Research Centre of the English Electric Company in Stafford. In those days you could gain QTS just by getting through a two year probationary period. I was lucky to make it and I cringe at some of the mistakes I made. Fortunately I learned fast and had the active assistance and support of some very experienced and generously disposed colleagues.

The life changing opportunity for me was being granted a one year full time secondment on my full salary (I had a young family and a mortgage to manage and could not have otherwise done it) to undertake the M.Ed Studies Course at Leicester University School of Education. Had I had the opportunity to do a PGCE with the benefit of the teaching and supervision of the brilliant staff I met on my Master's course I know I would have made a much better job of my early years as a teacher.

The most important single lesson for me from studying education at a deeper level was the realisation that it is not at all a matter of 'common sense'. I am of the view that trainee teachers need more university based education, not less. The example of Finland appears to support this.

As for your assertion that there is 'no evidence' that untrained teachers do any worse than trained ones, the same would be true of doctors. However I would want to be treated by a trained doctor rather than an untrained one every time, and the same applies for my grandchildren in respect of their teachers.

I think that the figures given by Janet for the proportion of untrained teachers in Free Schools is both shocking and alarming and I fully support the policies of the NUT and the Labour Party in emphasising the need for our teachers to be fully trained and and qualified. My guess is that most parents feel the same, so on this Tristram is not only pressing the right buttons but is right to do so.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 15:18

"As for your assertion that there is 'no evidence' that untrained teachers do any worse than trained ones". Please tell me where I said that?

What I have highlighted is TH's bald statement that "more and more unqualified teachers in our schools who are lowering standards", for which there is no evidence. He went on to make an explicit link between the latter and his assertion that attainment gap between FSM and disadvantaged pupils (PP pupils) and those who are not in that position. There is no evidence to support TH's shameful, shabby and dishonest statement.

Why do you seem to find it so difficult to read what I contribute without twisting it and coming up with something that I haven't said?

Andy V's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 16:00

I acknowledge what you are saying here but this wasn't the what TH was referring to and is not part of my response to what TH said. At the risk of repeating myself, the issue I took against was the classic politician making a concrete allegation for which there is no evidence.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sat, 21/02/2015 - 15:37

Sorry Andy, but doesn't, 'no evidence that untrained teachers are lowering standards' imply that there is, 'no evidence that untrained teachers do any worse than trained ones'? If there is a significant difference in meaning between the two it is lost on me.

Also given the arguments in my last post I can't see that Hunt's assertion can reasonably be described as, 'shameful, shabby and dishonest'. You are not just disagreeing with him there are you Andy? You are impugning his character. I agree that he is a pillock, but there is 'no evidence' that he is a shameful, shabby and dishonest pillock.

If you were to question his comments on 'the attainment gap' then I would agree with you. I have explained why this 'gap' is a misleading illusion many times on LSN. The argument is set out on my website here.


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