Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Ed's educational goals

News that the new children's and schools secretary Ed Balls wants every university to help run an academy is good for the future of an increasingly successful programme. And by removing the requirement that they must find a partner to contribute £2m sponsorship, he has not only made this goal more achievable, he has also shot the Tory fox. The only difference between their policy on academies and the government was on this issue: in reality, there was always a lot more flexibility than people assumed. The truth is that there are plenty of potential sponsors for academies - and having a £2m endowment is good for any inner city school - but there is no point in letting the sponsorship stand in the way of such partnerships.

Ed Balls has pledged to consult on a number of other educational issues. On primary maths, he is putting into practice a commitment made by Gordon Brown in his Mansion House speech. It will be important that there is as much emphasis on finding why some schools with similar intakes do much better than their peers as there is on reinventing the numeracy strategy. On school discipline, the measures introduced in Tony Blair's last schools bill have only just become law: the challenge here is spreading consistent good practice to all schools. Alan Steer's excellent report should be the government's starting point. It has wide support in schools.

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