Education is key election battleground, says Brown

9th April 2010 at 01:00
As landmark reforms are lost in parliamentary horse-trading, PM speaks to The TES

Gordon Brown has told The TES that education will be a key battle- ground in the election.

His comments came as a series of controversial measures promised by the party in the Children, Schools and Families (CSF) Bill was blocked by the Conservatives.

The move will come as a blow to the Prime Minister, who had been trumpeting the policies, such as one-to-one tuition for all pupils who fall behind in class, as distinctly Labour promises.

The bill also included the introducation of school report cards and the controversial licence to teach.

Mr Brown formally announced the dissolution of parliament on Tuesday, starting the month-long election campaign that is being touted as the tightest political fight for more than 20 years.

In doing so, the Labour leader instigated a three-day period of frantic horse-trading over all the bills currently before parliament - known as the wash-up - that has seen most of the CSF bill shelved.

Speaking to The TES, the Prime Minister said the distinction between Labour and the Conservative education policies would be clear for voters when it came to May 6.

"No government has sought to invest more into education, training and future qualifications than this Labour Government," he said.

"We want to be able to continue to make schools as a frontline service better in the future; we're taking action on standards and discipline and on the opportunities available to children.

"I believe in distinction from the Conservative Party, who are prepared to cut this important frontline service, people will see that the Labour Government will continue our funding to schools."

Mr Brown added that education would be a key battleground over the coming weeks.

"Because we have thought through our policies and know what we want to do, people will see that we're on a path of progress and I think unfortunately the Conservatives have adopted a Swedish educational model that doesn't seem to work in Sweden," he said.

"It is more divisive, it has not brought the results that were proclaimed but at the same time would deprive us of our resources for all our other schools."

In the same week, Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg said "education is everything" if we are to build a fair society.

Mr Clegg added: "That's why I've put schools first in our manifesto: the biggest financial commitment we are making in this election is to a pupil premium to bring funding for the poorest million children up to the levels found in private schools. Teachers are turning to the Liberal Democrats because only we offer the right combination of freedom and resources to make Britain's schools the best in the world."

In a letter to his Conservative counterpart Michael Gove, schools secretary Ed Balls accused the Tories of putting at risk pupils' education by blocking the Bill.

Mr Balls wrote: "It is a great pity that you have put at risk improvements in our schools, support for pupils and the well-being of our young people. I will be campaigning to ensure that this Government is returned and that these measures do make it on the statute book in the first session of the new Parliament."

A Conservative spokesman said: "We opposed Balls' attempts to impose even more damaging red tape on teachers via his foolish new licensing scheme and we are glad that has been dropped. This Bill would have meant a great new wave of bureaucracy swamping schools and it is good news that it has collapsed. Teachers will breathe a sigh of relief.

"We want to give teachers more power to deal with bad behaviour and more protection."

"The Government wants to give children the power to control whether teachers get promoted. We think this is crazy. People will soon be able to vote and have their say."


  • The Pupil and Parent Guarantees
  • The school report card
  • Licence to Practise
  • Reform of the Primary curriculum
  • Home School Agreements
  • Compulsory PSHE education
  • Registration and monitoring of Home Education.

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