Tristram Hunt at the Comprehensive Future AGM

Tristram Hunt, Shadow Secretary of State for Education spoke on the 25th of November 2014 at the  Comprehensive Future.

He said that Labour in office would battle inequality. ‘We have to work with what we inherit but it will be a progressive, radical interventionist programme’.

In particular Labour will focus on –

  • Early years  There will be a need to provide more resources in this area. The aim will be to ensure a wrap around offer from 8am to 6pm, with an enriched extra curriculum.
  • School support staff .Labour will introduce a school support staff negotiating body.
  • Schools . The Labour vision is of a less hierarchical school structure, ensuring  a qualified teacher in every classroom and encouraging a learning profession.
  • Schools working together.  Labour wants to see schools of all types working together. Today’s announcement re private schools is part of that.
  • The middle tier. The lessons of the London challenge and Birmingham are that an effective middle tier is vital. Directors of School Standards appointed by the local authorities will commission places. Local authorities will be able to open new schools alongside other providers.
  • Technical and vocational education.   This has been the great problem of English education.  Labour will rebuild apprenticeships, involving the FE sector, providing technical and vocational pathways. English and Maths will be required to 18.  Careers guidance will be rebuilt and work experience restored.

He responded to questions. He said –

  • Teacher training – There needs to be rebalancing, providing a regional model with HE at its centre
  • Selection at 11 and admissions– Labour will not be abolishing grammar schools. There is a discussion to be had about their socio-economically imbalanced intakes. There may be a need to look at its effect but we should not become obsessive about selection. There is not much evidence of concern in all areas where there is selection. Politics is the art of the possible. It is clear that the admissions system as a whole needs attention.
  • Curriculum and political interference – there is a role for politicians but it needs to be more detached than now.  There needs to be a vehicle to address this.
  • Exams – AS levels will be restored under a Labour government.  There is concern also about the removal of practical assessment from GCSEs.