Sadly, I was correct in suspecting that a half page devoted to news involving Tristram Hunt was bound to include much of the same old nonsense to which we have become accustomed since his appointment to the shadow cabinet.(Labour could abandon GCSEs within a decade, Hunt reveals,23/04/15) Every time he makes an announcement like this one, he reveals far more about his ignorance, both of what is happening in the majority of state schools, and of what the majority of their pupils are like, than about his party`s education policy. Where exactly are the schools whose "gates close at 2.55pm", or the students who lack "character and resilience"? I know of none of the former, and in my forty plus years of teaching in the state sector, I saw very few of the latter, especially as they became so adept at "dealing with the unexpected" every time a government`s new educational initiative involved a change of course, subject, syllabus or teacher!
It may well "drive him mad" to see these so-called "fortress schools", if indeed they exist, so why doesn`t he visit them and discuss problems with the heads and staff? What makes, I suspect, many of us even madder is to see a future education secretary miss yet another opportunity to praise teachers and congratulate everyone involved with the huge improvements made in state education in the last twenty years or so; he much prefers, with Gove-like predictability, to emphasise the "long tail of underachievement", something based on Pisa tests where students from a variety of nations are given different questions, and their results somehow compared. A commitment to address teachers` ridiculous workload would not go amiss, either, and how about an announcement to meet and work with teachers` union leaders on a regular basis to sort out the pay and conditions` problems? After all, he is the Labour spokesperson for education, so it would be refreshing to hear some comments on education which do not sound as if they were drafted by Keith Joseph!