Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Labour Party

I managed to catch up with some of yesterday’s Andrew Marr show yesterday. It was great to see two women MP’s sitting on the sofa doing the newspaper review. Yes there was at times a political edge to it, but in my opinion it gave some more context, additional insight and depth to the stories they were discussing. You can watch the paper review here.

One of the things they discussed was an article in the Independent on Sunday in which the Tory education secretary, Nicky Morgan, admitted poor children face soft bigotry.

She told the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) that Children from poor backgrounds are still being written off as low achievers by their teachers because of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. She said more needed to be done to stop children being held back. The article didn’t go into exactly what a conservative government would do but Labour has promised to put an end Westminster’s “alpha male” education reform culture.

The shadow education secretary,Tristram Hunt, speaking at the same conference, promised to call time on the “exam factory” approach of recent years and offer in its place greater autonomy for teachers and school leaders.

Hunt said: “The cult of the big reformer. A sort of alpha male compulsion to see everything through the prism of your ‘reforming legacy’.”

“Change must come from the bottom up,” he said, adding: “through giving teachers and school leaders the freedom and autonomy to deliver an exciting education”.

He also said the existing model of school improvements simply didn’t work: “The existing model of school improvement is creaking at the seams. The idea that if we just raise the targets, stamp our feet and demand a bit more, then every child will fulfil their potential is now, surely, approaching its end stages.

It is a scandal, that three quarters of children from one area (in this instance Trafford in Greater Manchester) achieve five good GCSE passes while just a 30 minute drive away in Knowsley only 35% of children get the same number of passes.

The ASCL’s general secretary also spoke and warned that the government’s continuous reform of the curriculum was impacting negatively on students because it made it impossible to measure how well England’s schools are performing, in addition parents and employers found it difficult to understand what qualifications are worth.

Meanwhile in France, the far right group led by Marine Le Pen, the Front National failed in its bid to come top in France’s regional elections, putting the party far behind Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP. The UMP secured 30% of the vote in the first round of elections against the FN’s 26%.|

This was an interesting development as polls had suggested that Le Pen’s party would come top. Perhaps following an initial surge in interest voters who had previously considered voting for the far right group can see what the Front National party really stands for and are therefore not prepared to give it the support it requires.