EDUCATION Secretary David Blunkett has been accused of swamping teachers with red tape and regulations. "It's not education, education, education - it's regulation, regulation, regulation," said David Willetts, Conservative education spokesman.
Mr Willetts was leading a debate on the bureaucratic burdens placed on schools by the Government's initiatives. In the last year the Government had sent 322 documents and directives to schools and local education authorities, he said. After two years in office Labour had lost the goodwill of teachers, parents and pupils, He said the literacy hour was a bureaucratic imposition, and claimed that proposals to introduce performance-related pay would cost pound;250 million in administration and appointing external assessors before a single pound reached a teacher's pay packet.
"Conservatives believe in setting schools free, and that giving them a break from the tiresome, tedious flow of instructions and directives from the Labour party is the best way of raising standards in schools," he said.
School standards minister Estelle Morris countered that the Conservative government had introduced an Education Bill each year for 18 years. She said Mr Willetts would sooner count the bits of paper concerned with the literacy hour than consider whether it works: "He is entitled to count bits of paper and ignore evidence. I admit that we could have avoided sending 40 bits of paper to schools by not introducing the literacy hour. But a generation of children would have been betrayed had we not done so."