Tristram Hunt may well opine that a Labour education secretary would not "ban To Kill Mocking Bird", but judging by his pre-election announcements Labour would not reverse the academisation programme either, nor repeal Gove`s unnecessary assessment reforms, nor do anything about the 60 hour week many of our teachers endure, nor even promise the return of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the removal of which ended the aspiration of thousands of would-be sixth formers at a stroke ("We should have been more radical",09/06/15)
Putting the blame on Miliband for allowing himself "to be perceived as uninterested in schools` policy" is a little rich when one remembers Hunt`s own lack of focus on the subject, and instead, his concentration on introducing teachers` oaths, a new re-licensing scheme, Performance Related Pay, and the lack of "character and resilience" amongst state educated pupils. With Gove-like predictability, Hunt wrote in the Guardian about "the long tail of underachievement", a view based on Pisa tests where students from a range of nations are given different questions to answer, and results somehow compared (Labour could abandon GCSEs within a decade, Hunt reveals,23/04.15). No mention whatsoever was made of the fantastic work and results being achieved in the state sector, despite constant curriculum and examination changes.
Did Hunt ever see the need to consult with experienced teachers before introducing his policy initiatives? Of course, as he said, the country needs to "make the most of the talents of all our young people", but how would that be achieved by identifying a small proportion, the so-called "gifted and talented", and giving them special treatment? (Labour must do more to cater for gifted children, says Tristram Hunt, 02/02/15) All children deserve an education system which will stretch them to the limit, so designating some as worthy of preferential treatment is clearly unfair.
Education, as Hunt says, "must be our vehicle for a bigger story of Britain", but few will be convinced, especially with this scapegoating, that he should be driving it! Did he ever commit Labour to a review of teachers` pay and conditions, or even to meet with teachers` union leaders? And he has the nerve to criticise Miliband!