Michael Gove is redefining what Left and Right mean in education policy The terms of the debate on education policy used to be presented as Labour championing equal opportunity while the Conservatives were defenders of priviledge for the minority. Labour attacked the gramar schools on the grounds that the children who failed the 11-plus were "written off." Labour also attacked independent schools - even proposing to outlaw them in their 1983 election manifesto. Given that Labour no longer propose to ban independent schools how do they now believe that equality be achieved? How can the huge gap in standards be reduced between the small minority of pupils who go to such schools and the vast majority who go to state schools. The Labour Government's answer from 1997-2010 was to increase spending on education but that didn't close the gap. This leaves the Education Secretary Michael Gove as the champion of equality. He is not seeking to achieve this by levvelling down, by dragging down the independent schools, but by levelling up. The result has been that the Labour Party are defending a status quo - a system which gives the children of the rich a huge advantage in their career prospects. In his speech to the Social Market Foundation yesterday Mr Gove said: The truth is that the EBacc did not inspire opposition because it cast a shadow over creativity. It inspired opposition because it revealed how poorly served so many state students were.
The comforting story we had been told about rapid and relentless educational improvement - based on GCSE results - was shown up as a far more complex narrative of inequality and untapped potential.
But instead of using this information to demand that poorer children at last enjoy the education expected by the privileged, far too many on the left attacked the very idea that poor children might aspire to such an entitlement.
Ed Balls, Stephen Twigg and Ed Miliband – Oxford PPEists all – have been united in opposition to...