It didn’t take long – less than four days, in fact – for education secretary Michael Gove to write to Labour’s new education spokesman Tristram Hunt (pictuted) questioning his credibility while simultaneously “congratulating” him on his new job.
Mr Hunt was only named as shadow education secretary on Monday, but this morning his opposite number published a letter calling him out on his first act as a Labour frontbencher and questioning his standpoint.
The former TV historian responded to an OECD survey showing literacy and numeracy skills among young people in the UK have fallen in comparison to other countries. Mr Hunt said standards had, in fact, improved as shown by rising GCSE results during Labour's period in office.
“Labour drove up standards in maths and English across our schools, evident in the huge improvements we saw in GCSE results between 1997 and 2010,” Mr Hunt said on Tuesday.
“Of course, more needs to be done and that is why a future Labour Government would ensure all young people study maths and English to 18 and would overturn David Cameron's decision to allow unqualified teachers to teach in our classrooms on a permanent basis.”
This prompted Mr Gove to write to the Labour MP, claiming it was “not a credible response” and asking for his views on a range of issues, from grade inflation, A level reforms and the Ebacc performance measure.
Mr Hunt had previously questioned the worth of AS levels as a backbench MP, and had signalled his support for the Ebacc, not least for its role in promoting subjects such as his beloved history.
All of which was gleefully revisited by Mr Gove, who is now facing his fourth Labour education spokesman in three and a half years.
Mr Gove concluded by writing: “I hope you will use your new position to confront the failings of the past, stand up for higher standards and not seek to appease those who have been complicit in dumbing down our education system.”