Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Where Blair's education policy got us....

Although Gordon Brown has had a remarkably good press from the Tory papers, including the Daily Mail, for his conference speech, the Mail still continues to ask, as if rhetorically:

As for our schools, it's all very well for Mr Brown to say: "Education is my passion." Didn't Mr Blair tell us more than ten years ago that it was all three of his top priorities - and where did that get us?

Since I'm fed up reading such crass comment, here are a dozen ways in which our schools are better now than they were in 1997.

1. Over 100,000 more 11-year-olds can read, write and add up well now each year than could do so in 1997.

2. Over 25% more 15 year olds get five good GCSEs every year - whether you include English and Maths or not. Results have improved fastest in London. The number of non-selective schools where 70% or more pupils get five good GCSEs rose from 83 in 1997 to 603 in 2006.

3. The universal free nursery education promised by Maggie Thatcher in 1972 but never delivered is now available to all 3 and 4 year olds, with their hours increasing. Sure Start children's centres link this with other services including childcare.

4. Most schools are much better at stretching brighter pupils and helping weaker pupils than they were ten years ago, as the culture of expectations has been transformed, with Gifted and Talented programmes now widespread.

5. Over 1000 new schools have been built, and many more have had vital repairs.

6. There are now over 100 open academies and most schools have a specialism, which has led to a completely transformed attitude to education in our secondary schools.

7. Over 30,000 more teachers work in our schools, and teachers and heads are now reasonably paid, with performance pay part of the system.

8. Teaching is one of the top careers of choice, not of last resort.

9. Our schools have entered the 21st century with modern IT equipment and teachers who know how to use it, increasingly imaginatively in lessons.

10. Over 130,000 more teaching assistants now work in our schools, making one-to-one tuition easier and providing vital support to teachers.

11. There is far more school sport than there was, both in and out of school hours, and teachers are helping provide it. School playing fields are much better protected.

12. Thousands of schools now provide extended facilities, including breakfast clubs, after-school homework, IT, sports and arts, and all will soon do so. Few did so in 1997.

I could list many more examples. But, to the question (presumably snidely intended) asking where making education Tony Blair's top priorities got us, that's where.

1 comment:

Will Parbury said...

And what have the Romans ever done for us?