Ofsted and the battle for Labour’s education policy

Can abolishing Sats and the schools inspectorate win votes in a general election?

Ed Dorrell

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So we’re witnessing the formation of the most leftist education manifesto for more than a generation.

Confirmation that Labour would go into any forthcoming election with a genuinely radical policy slate came this morning with news that the party would abolish Ofsted.

The move comes after the announcement earlier this year that a Corbyn government would get rid of Sats and the party leadership’s support this week for aggressively anti-independent sector policies.

It has hardly been a secret that the NEU teachers’ union has been a big influence on both shadow secretary Angela Rayner and Corbyn – indeed former NUT general secretary Christine Blower is an adviser – but these changes signal the defeat of more moderate thinking, which hadn’t always been ignored.

Behind the scenes in Westminster, Rayner’s inner circle has consulted far more widely than one might have imagined, something that was perhaps best illustrated by her nuanced position on academisation at conference in 2018.

But the news about Sats – and now Ofsted – suggests this informal battle for the future of Labour’s thinking on schools is being won by the unions.

And the question to which we will soon know the answer is this: is there electoral appetite for education policy as drafted by the NEU?

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Ed Dorrell

Ed Dorrell

Ed Dorrell is deputy editor and head of content at the TES, former features and comment editor and former news editor. 

Find me on Twitter @Ed_Dorrell

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