The UK Eduscape Briefing paper on Labour Party reviews (PDF)

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The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

The UK Eduscape Briefing paper on the Labour Party policy
reviews for children, schools and families with profile notes
The Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham MP launched a major two year policy review
commission at the ASCL conference on Saturday 12th March.
The core theme that the schools policy review panel will look at are:
What do families want from good local schools? A comprehensive approach to raising
aspiration and achievement
What do children need to become successful adults? Helping young Britain achieve its
My understanding at present is that most of the panel members listed below will be involved in
the review of both key policy themes.
Some of the key questions in the formal remit of the schools review include:

What knowledge and skills do the next generation need to be successful in the modern

How can we continue to improve standards in English, Maths and Science, but also provide
a balanced curriculum which meets the needs of all children?

What influence and control do parents want over local schools and their own child‟s

How can we create the most professional and highest quality teaching workforce in the

The second panel will be focused around key pressures on children and parents from 21st
century childhood and how families from deprived backgrounds can be supported to be more
engaged in the educational development of their children. It will also look at what support the
state should be providing beyond the school gate to boost life chances through integrated
children‟s services provision.

Page 1 of 8


The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

Key extracts from Rt. Hon Andy Burnham MP’s ASCL speech that give an
indication of Labour’s likely direction of travel in terms of policy and political
Political strategy and headline objectives:

“I wonder if any other country talks down its young people as much as we seem to do. So, in
this job, I intend to celebrate the schools that did a good job for me – and have been doing a
great job for my children. But I‟m not at all complacent. The progress we made was good,
but not good enough. And we didn‟t get everything right. We didn‟t always get the balance
right between top-down direction and school autonomy. And in my view, at times we allowed
the London context to exert an undue influence on national policy.”

“…Politicians on all sides have polished messages for some parents, while teachers
everywhere have been dealing with the reality of trying to create schools that work for
everyone. This has been some disconnect between politicians and the profession. So I am
lucky to have the chance to step back and rethink Labour education policy for new times,
and I want to address that disconnect.”

“I see Ministers with a plan for some schools and some children, not all schools and all
children. I see an elitist approach to education, with policies that will set school against
school, and a growing chasm between Whitehall rhetoric and the reality on the ground.”

“The challenge is to rethink comprehensive education for this century, showing how it can
embody aspiration and achievement in schools and colleges across the country.”

“I also want to use this chance to rebalance the debate about education in our country. The
opening up of the prospect of a University education was one of the proudest achievements
of our Government. Most young people aspire to go to university, but not all do.”

“The public debate about education is heavily skewed towards the University route, partly
because most MPs and journalists went to University. In a changing world, we need to
continue to work to expand opportunities to go to university. But the time has come to focus
more of our intellectual energy on the other 50% - their life chances and opportunities.”

Academies, free schools and partnership working

“At times, Labour focused too much on top-down structural reforms - these meant little to
parents and sucked up energy and resources in our schools. The present Government have
fallen straight into this trap. It depresses me when I see the time, energy, PR and - worst of
all – public money being poured into the free schools programme.”

I‟m concerned about whether these (free) schools will be able to offer a broad and balanced
curriculum that would suit all children. I‟m concerned about money being diverted from
incredibly tight budgets to fund this experiment.

The programme appears shrouded in secrecy. With mainstream schools facing harsh cuts,
local communities must be allowed to judge whether this is the best use of resources.
Page 2 of 8


The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

Labour‟s structural reforms were always focused on standards. Our Academy programme
turned around schools in the most deprived areas and drove up standards where they were
lowest. In contrast, the Government appears to be pursuing an ideological programme.
Michael Gove seems to be obsessed with increasing the number of academies – regardless
of whether it will improve standards.

“But I have said I want Labour to be a responsible and pragmatic opposition, so let me make
one thing clear. I know that many of the people involved in academy conversions and Free
Schools care deeply about children's education, and that many share a belief that education
should be non-selective, comprehensive and based on partnership.”

“So let me be clear. A new-style academy can be true to the comprehensive ideal. A Free
School can be true to the comprehensive ideal. It all depends on how they are set up and
the ethos they adopt.”

“So while Labour opposes the overall direction of travel towards a fragmented system, and
the break-up of the Local Authority role, each local proposal should be judged on its merits.
Contrary to excitable claims from the Free School lobby, I would not seek to close
successful Free Schools or reverse academy status for ideological reasons.”

“I am more pragmatic than that. Instead, local areas should judge whether each school is
operating in the wider interests of all children in the area, not just those that attend the
school. My test will be clear – we should look not just look at the results in the individual
school but at the effect on results in the wider family of schools”.

English Baccalaureate, curriculum freedom and the future of 14-19 learning:

“The English Baccalaureate… I think embodies everything that is wrong with Michael Gove‟s
approach to Government. Policies rushed in with no consultation and no evidence and
sending a contradictory message to the one he gave you in Opposition of autonomy and

“Across the country, 270 schools were awarded zero on the English Bac. It is as if the
Government is saying these schools are doing nothing of value – that they are worthless – a
wrong and, in my view unforgiveable, slur on those schools.”

“It has unfairly damaged their reputation – just as the Government is sending them out to
compete in the dog-eat-dog world their policies are creating, with not one hand but two
hands tied behind their backs.”

“Michael Gove can‟t decide whether he is truly in favour of delivering the autonomy he
promised or whether he wants to mandate to every student and school what they must do.”
In Opposition, Conservatives blamed „top-down targets‟ for practically all of the ills of
society. So why, we might ask, are they proposing to judge schools and students by a much
more prescriptive and narrow top-down measure than we ever proposed?

“This brings me to the content – which seems to owe more to an arbitrary list of ministerial
whims than solid evidence. It fails to value the arts, technology, business or economics. It is
Page 3 of 8


The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

a 1950s vision of education that won‟t equip young people with the skills they need for the
modern world.”

“I want our policy review to look again at 14-19 curriculum reform. We need a proper debate
on how to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum which offers real choice for young people
and prepares them for the modern world. We know parents want their children to be offered
a broad and balanced curriculum.”

N.B At a number of events and in interviews Andy Burnham has spoken of his belief that the
time is right for the Labour Party to “dust off” the Tomlinson Review which proposed an
integrated, overarching Baccalaureate that all students would follow during the 14-19 phase,
with opportunities to specialize. Although he didn‟t directly reference the Tomlinson Review in
his speech, the media briefings strongly reference this as being his meaning.

Education and Children policy review panel members:
Sir Tim Brighouse
Former Commissioner for London Schools
Sir Tim attended state schools and gained a degree in modern
history from Oxford. He trained to be a teacher, taught in Grammar
(Derbyshire) and Secondary Modern (South Wales) schools before
embarking on a career in educational administration.
Tim was Deputy Education Officer (I.L.E.A), Chief Education Officer (Oxfordshire 1978-1989
and Birmingham 1993-2002) and also Professor of Education (Keele 1989-2003),
Commissioner for London Schools/Chief Adviser for London Schools (2002-2007).
He was a member of the Government‟s School standards taskforce during Labour‟s first term.
Professor Tanya Byron
Educationist, psychologist and broadcaster on children’s
issues and technology
Professor Tanya Byron is one of the most high profile clinical
psychologists in the UK and specialises in children‟s psychology,
child protection policy and the impact of technology and science on
She led a major review in 2008 on safer children in a digital world which looked at the impact of
television, the internet and computer games and the implications for child protection policy and
e-safety in schools. Her recommendations were accepted in full by the last Government.
Professor Byron is also a keen champion of e-learning and m-based learning and also the
concept of a „digital curriculum‟ for 21st century schools. She is an enthusiast for thematic
programmes of study that cut across traditional subject lines.

Page 4 of 8


The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

She is also the Chancellor of Edge Hill University and its visiting Professor for Public
Understanding of Science.
Prior to training in Clinical Psychology, Professor Byron worked as a researcher on the Video
Diaries documentary film series. Once she qualified, Byron worked in the British National Health
Service for 18 years in a number of public health areas such as drug addiction, STDs, and
mental disorders.
She has presented a number of major documentary series on television and radio looking at
childhood, family issues and child therapy for the BBC. She is also the co-writer, with Jennifer
Saunders, of a BBC 2 comedy “The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle”, about a daytime chat
show host.
Richard Gerver
Former primary school head and now author, speaker and media
After starting out as an actor, Richard began a teaching career in 1992. By
2005 he had won the “School Head Teacher of the Year Award” at the
British National Teaching Awards for his work in leading a school on the
brink of closure.
In 2003 Richard started working with Tony Blair‟s Government as an
advisor on education policy. He now works around the world advising organizations including
HBOS, SKANSKA, The British Council and RBS on cultural and organizational transformation,
human development, leadership, creativity and innovation.
In 2006 his work was celebrated at the UNESCO World Arts Education Conference in Lisbon,
Portugal and he was invited to Shanghai to speak about education transformation to the
Chinese Government. He recently co-founded The International Curriculum Foundation which
will help schools and authorities around the world to develop education systems.
. He works closely with Sir Ken Robinson on developing the awareness of human potential and
creativity and features in Robinson‟s book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes
Everything. He is a regular contributor to British print media, appears on the BBC and has made
a series for the The Teacher‟s TV Channel. His first book Creating Tomorrow's Schools Today
(Dec. 2009) deals with education transformation, his second, due by the end of 2011, deals with
human capacity and the nurturing of talent.
Rod Bristow
President of Pearson UK
Rod has worked in education for thirty years in higher education, schools,
colleges, professional training and learning technologies. He was
appointed President of Pearson's UK educational publishing businesses in

Page 5 of 8


The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

In 2010, he was appointed President of Pearson UK, giving him overall responsibility for all of
Pearson‟s education related publishing businesses as well as Ed Excel and the school
improvement business.
He is a graduate of University College London.
Mike Ion
Designated Academy Principal and formerly a school improvement
programme specialist at the National Strategies
Mike is a former secondary school head who moved on to work a
programme lead for school improvement for the National Strategies. He is
taking up a headship of an Academy in September.
Mike is a Labour Party member and former PPC for Srewsbury (2005). He put his name forward
for the Stoke-on-Trent seat won by Tristram Hunt in 2010, and is a prolific blogger on education
policy and other public service reform issues for the Labour think-tank Progress.
He also writes for the Guardian and Tribune. He was educated at the University of Liverpool.
Professor John Stannard CBE
Director, National Literacy Strategy, DfES (1996-2000)
John began his career as a teacher in primary and middle years
education and then moved into teacher education. From the posts of
primary adviser specialising in the Early Years of education for
Lancashire Education Authority and district inspector for primary and
nursery schools in the Inner London Education Authority, John was
appointed Her Majesty‟s Inspector of Schools (1987). He then went on to
become the specialist English Adviser for the Office for Standards in

1997 he was appointed Director of the National Literacy Strategy in 1997 and his success in the
role saw him awarded the CBE for services to education in 2000. In 2007 Schools Minister
Andrew Adonis appointed him the National Champion for the Young Gifted and Talented
John currently provides consultancy services to clients in the field of education and works as a
Principal Consultant for CfBT, advising nationally and internationally on school improvement
and standards.
John has written numerous articles, reviews, publications and papers on various aspects of
education. His most recent book is The Literacy Game: the story of the National Literacy
Strategy, which was published this year.

Page 6 of 8


The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

David Van der Velde
Service Manager with Fathers Plus
A father of 4, he has been involved with Fathers Plus since January
2005 where he has developed the service and setting up of the
Including Men Networks across the country.
Though his background is in IT, David is a trained counsellor and has
delivered play therapy in primary school as well as couple counselling
and therapeutic work.
Professor Les Ebdon CBE
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire; Chair of Million+
University think tank
Professor Ebdon, whose background is in environmental analytical
chemistry, took up his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of the University
of Bedfordshire in 2003. He is active regionally as the Chair of the
Association of Universities in the East of England, a member of the East
of England Regional Economic Forum, a member of Luton Gateway
Board, President of the United Nations Association-Luton and Patron of
Luton Churches Education Trust.
Nationally, he is the Chair of the University mission group Million+, a Board member of the
Universities and Colleges Employers‟ Association, a member of the Universities UK Board and
UUK‟s Health and Social Policy Committee.
Professor Ebdon is a member of both the National Council for Educational Excellence, the
Parliamentary University Group Council and a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Chemistry
and the Royal Society for the Arts. He also serves on the Editorial Board of the Times Higher
Education Supplement and two international learned society editorial boards.
Ian Bauckham
Secondary school headteacher, Bennett Memorial Diocesan School,
Ian is the headteacher of Bennett Memorial Diocesan, a Church of
England co-educational secondary school. In 2003 the school achieved
specialist school status as a technology college and it also has the silver
Artsmark award, the Sportsmark award and is a Language College. In
2008 it was handed the International School Award.
Ian read Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge.

Page 7 of 8


The UK Eduscape
Briefing paper – Labour Party reviews

Ashish Shah
Secondary Maths teacher at Ruislip High School
Ashish Shah is a secondary school Maths teacher, and a Teach First ambassador having
entered the profession through this scheme.
Paddy Lillis
Deputy General Secretary of the USDAW and Co-Convenor of the
Labour Party National Policy Forum’s standing Education and Skills
Paddy Lillis is the Deputy General Secretary of the UKs fourth biggest trade
union, Usdaw. He was elected as second in command of the 359,000 strong
union in August 2004 and is responsible for recruitment and internal
organizational issues within the union, including overseeing the Usdaw
Organising Academy

Page 8 of 8

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