The begrudgers in the commentariat have decided that Labour has failed the educational test. For them, there is no figure or fact that could dampen their prejudice. Yet, for more open-minded observers there is one spectacular success - the use of floor targets or minimum acceptable standards to drive up the performance of the weakest schools.
The approach was started by David Blunkett in 2000, and was revived by Ed Balls with his National Challenge. The success of the strategy depends upon real reform - with academies and trust schools - and strong leadership in secondary schools. And because the test of success - five good GCSEs including English and Maths achieved by at least 30% of pupils in a school - is a pretty tough one, even Michael Gove at his most churlish should find it hard to gainsay the achievement (though I doubt it will stop him trying).
Today's figures show that where there were 1600 secondary schools - one in two - that failed to reach this benchmark in 1997, there are only 247 today, including a drop from 439 in 2008. Remarkably, London now outperforms other regions. That is a spectacular success that is unmatched in reform programmes in other countries. The danger is that the Tories in their zealous idelological opposition to targets - even where they so clearly work - will take this pressure off schools and they will only realise its damaging impact only after it is too late. For today, though, it is time to recognise this signal achievement by headteachers and schools that has resulted from a Labour policy.