Listening last week to Messrs Blair and Howard extolling their vision for education after the next election it appears that the education service faces yet another upheaval whether by a new "revolution" from New Labour or a loony "free choice for all" by the Conservatives.
The latter is so ill thought out it is frightening when a political party looks upon the free choice of schools in the same light as a consumer moving their allegiance from say, Sainsbury's to Tesco. The scenario of the affluent descending in droves upon "good" schools, thereby overloading the intakes and, incidentally the surrounding roads with their 4x4s, and the less well off finding their children in dying schools whose intake will not sustain the school budget.
If either party could contemplate reality for a time they would see that schools now need a period of stability and consolidation and some freedom from the mind-numbing and demoralising buraucracy with its insatiable demands for data.
There are issues for society on which schools could and should have a major effect. Standards of behaviour, the self esteem of pupils, consideration for others and a rich and balanced curriculum are all items which would improve the fabric of society and are light-years away from the increasingly sterile exam-ridden culture which is blighting this generation of children and their teachers.
If the educational culture could be civilised then the results would follow and no longer would education be seen as yet another item on the political tick-list. I fear that neither Tony Blair nor Michael Howard can see this; or a more chilling thought, they may see it but do not have the will or the political courage to put it into practice.