May 2024

A reminder how Labour ruined our education system

As the Government tries to turn our education system into one that actually teaches something, it’s perhaps worth remembering how Labour ruined our schools. Under Labour, education spending shot up from £38bn to £73bn. But where did all the money go? Did the quality of our schools almost double?

Looking at the number of initiatives launched by Labour, one can see how our money was spent. For children starting school there were Early Learning Partnerships, Transition Information Sessions, Parent Support Advisers and Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinders.

At primary school level there were the Primary Leadership Programme and Primary Strategy Consultant Leaders.

For secondary schools we had Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning Resources (SEALS), School Improvement Partners, Reading Recovery Teachers, the Secondary National Strategy, Learning Agreements and Excellence Hubs.

We were also blessed with the September Guarantee, School Sport Partnerships, Pathfinder Partnerships, Education Improvement Partnerships, Extended Schools, the Every Child Matters (ECM) programme, the Cross-Government Safeguarding Programme Board, Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Activity Agreements, the Apprentice Ambassador Network, Care to Learn, Aimhigher, Safer School Partnerships, the London Challenge, Chartered London Teachers, the 6th Form Presumption, the Early Adopters Programme, Making Mathematics Count, the Train to Gain Service, Youth Matters, Sector Skills Councils, National Skills Academies, the Trust Schools Toolkit, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, the Numeracy Taskforce, Safer Sector Partnerships, the Framework for Personal Learning and Thinking Skills, Diploma Gateway, Every Child a Reader and the School Attendance Strategy to name just a few. Moreover, there was Personalised Learning – but as the Department for Education and Skills explained this is ‘not a new initiative, it is a philosophy’.

In a 2007 report, the Department for Education and Skills claimed all these initiatives were part of “the Government’s commitment to removing unnecessary administrative burdens and giving schools greater freedom and autonomy”. However, an ignorant outsider might think Labour created a vast, Byzantine empire of specialists and advisers – many with good salaries, expense accounts and index-linked pensions – all there to wander round the country, attend thousands of meetings, produce hundreds of thousands of documents, all to tell our teachers how to teach without ever actually having to endure the daily struggle of facing a class of schoolchildren themselves.

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