Monday 21 June 2010

Hunting out problem policy

There has been a lot of lip-service paid to “recognising why we lost the election” among Labour ranks.

But there are a few MPs on the opposition benches who are actually pushing a more critical appraisal of the previous Government’s policies.

Among them is Tristram Hunt, the new MP for Stoke central, who I might add referred lovingly to this site as “that bloody blog”.

He said: “There is a sense on the Labour benches in this period of reflection that we should look at what policies have worked and what hasn’t worked.”

Two areas which he singled out were city academies and Labour’s 14 to 19 Diplomas.

On academies he said Labour had made an “error” in neglecting to make them susceptible to Freedom of Information law.

He freely admitted that there was a danger the schools could secretly force pupils into ‘easier’ vocational subjects in order to push up their league table standing.

That’s something Labour’s shadow education team are still loath to admit – despite the previous Government making the initial move to bring academies under the FOI Act.

Critically Hunt also suggested the 14 to 19 Diplomas – introduced by the last Government in a bid to keep youngsters in education – may be “short-changing” students.

“I have a worry about the weighting of diplomas and their equivalence to GCSEs. It seems to me that you can get an awful lot of GCSE credits for the qualifications," he said.

“But when the students get to further education colleges they will look at those qualifications [diplomas] and ask some tough questions of them – we have to make sure we are not short-changing students.”

It’s unclear whether many of his colleagues on the Labour benches would openly agree with Hunt on this issue.

What they should know is that unless they speak out, like Hunt, on specific policies they think need reviewing, the public won't believe they're conducting a proper analysis of their defeat.

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