10th October 2008 at 01:00
Rescuing standards ain't easy

So the Tory leader is offering to rescue standards in education - although it seems good English will not be on the agenda.

In his conference speech, David Cameron said that his Government would "bring - and I mean this almost literally - a declaration of war against those parts of the educational establishment who still cling to the cruelty of the `all must win prizes' philosophy and the dangerous practice of dumbing down".

Hmm . "almost literally" a war. Good to see that those school fees weren't wasted.

But my conference spies say FE got a good hearing at the party conferences this year. All heard some choice facts about colleges that should reduce the chances of their being ignored in the run-up to the next election.

The news that colleges cater for more 16 to 18-year-olds than schools was greeted with "gasps of amazement" by all threes parties, I'm told.

Not only are the Tories receptive but it seems that the Liberal Democrats - already seen as cuddly towards colleges - have lost none of their enthusiasm for the work done by our readers. What I suspect they also agree on is that the case for equal pay with school teachers is only strong in principle.

Meanwhile, the Government has made some changes: Bill Rammell, the further and higher education minister, returns to the Foreign Office; skills minister David Lammy, a Harvard Law graduate and chum of Barack Obama, goes to HE; and Sion Simon becomes FE minister.

Good luck, Bill. We've always known that as soon as you really started to understand further education you'd have to move on.

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