Editor's comment

6th July 2007 at 01:00
The new Prime Minister has barely got his feet under the desk, but it is already clear that he has big plans for education. The broad brushstrokes have been applied a greater role for business, focus on skills and more help for the disadvantaged. Gordon Brown's plan to provide every secondary school (and perhaps every primary) with a business partner reflects his determination to produce the entrepreneurs and skilled workforce needed for a modern economy.

It would be wise not to be fooled by the fact that these are Westminster initiatives. Nor should we assume that a Labour agenda in London will not also be an SNP agenda in Edinburgh. There will be different emphases and a different route map, but the "brushstrokes" mentioned at the beginning are not likely to be airbrushed away at the border crossing.

Take the role of business, for example. Alex Salmond, the First Minister, has made no secret of his affinity with employers and he has dragged his party with him; economic growth is his top priority. Brown has his National Council for Educational Excellence, on which business is heavily represented. Salmond is to surround himself with a Council of Economic Advisers, who will undoubtedly have education and skills in their sights, as well as the economy. There is a synergy between education and the economy in both countries, and this is represented in the new mantra of "skills, skills, skills" which is as much about the early years as it is to do with plugging gaps in the workforce.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether these new organisations in Scotland and England bring the strategic leadership that is required in educational and economic policy-making. But it would be intriguing if this leads to a synergy between Salmond and Brown, despite their differences.

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