History rewritten for Ruskin

25th October 1996 at 01:00
Michael Barber's interview with Lord Callaghan (TES, October 11) rewrote history to find inspiration in the former Labour premier's Ruskin Speech.

Yet, as is widely recognised, this speech signalled Labour's abandonment of the comprehensive schools policy it had followed since 1964.

In its place, Callaghan announced a policy of vocational relevance to the needs of employers as a way of meeting the crisis of rising youth unemployment.

After initial hesitation, Margaret Thatcher then followed this policy of training without jobs from 1979 to 1987.

Ironically, Barber's tail-ending piece then echoed Tony Blair's sermon to his party conference without recognising that Blair, just like Thatcher, has picked up the education policy of the preceding government.

Introduced by the Tories in 1987, this is a policy of free-market competition between schools following an academic national curriculum.

Taken together with changes in further and higher education, it offers education without jobs as a solution to unemployment.

PATRICK AINLEY 1 Vicarage Road London E15

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