Thursday, May 24, 2007

Willetts Puts the Boot Into Alan Johnson

Reports seem to indicate that David Willetts scored a bit of a hit against Alan Johnson at Education Questions. Admittedly, I didn't see it personally, but if this report from PA is true then well done to The Speaker! And that's not something I often say...
Education Secretary Alan Johnson today denied "taking his foot off the
accelerator" over expanding the city academy programme. Mr Johnson, a Labour
deputy leadership contender, was responding to Tory charges that he was "going
cool" on them. But he insisted the Government wanted to build 400 of the
independent publicly-funded schools, although that would take "many years" of a
Labour administration. There are presently 47. He also sought at Commons
question time to highlight Tory divisions on academic selection before being cut
off by Speaker Michael Martin. Academies are non-fee paying, non-selective state
schools which operate outside the control of local education authorities and
have private sponsors. Mr Johnson has reportedly said he wants to "limit" the
number to 400. In a speech this month shadow education secretary David Willetts
rejected the view - for years a strongly-held Tory belief - that academic
selection was the best way to raise school standards. And he claimed the Tories
would build more of Tony Blair's favoured city academies than will be opened
under a Gordon Brown government. Tory leader David Cameron has said dropping the commitment to create more selective schools was essential if the party wanted to be a "serious force for government and change". At question time today Mr
Willetts said: "Why is it that when the Prime Minister is leaving office, the
Secretary of State is taking his foot off the accelerator, going cool on academies when we on this side of the House strongly support academies and do not see why their should be any limit to the number of them?" Mr Johnson replied: "This is hardly taking our foot off the accelerator. There are 47 academies now. We have a manifesto commitment to 200 academies by 2010 and we have just announced we are going to go on to build 400 academies." He said given that the "specific intention" of the academies was that they were built predominantly in areas "where education has failed generations of children" and in areas of deprivation, the 400 number "fits that bill". Mr Johnson went on to raise the recent comments by Mr Willetts and Mr Cameron, before being cut off by Mr Martin.


Old BE said...

It's a good question: if they are so good why shouldn't there be one in every town?

Anonymous said...

I can see how academic selection can help make good schools better, but what happens to the schools where all the best pupils don't want to go? They become sink schools? But they can't be empty, so some kids will be forced to go there. You can't just play with life chances like this.

Chris Paul said...

400 is just about one in every town, and if there is more demand I have no doubt the number will grow. The way Manchester is using this initiative is great as it wrests back control for local people.

This makes it more palatable for councils of all stripes and this has enabled the Govt to increase their targets. Blogged it five weeks ago.

But anyway I've read this PA report twice Iain and I don't see how you get from that to claim a win for Willetts. If it is a win he must have cheated and needs some points taken off him.

Just like that team A Couple of Stops from Barking AFC should have had.

Old BE said...

Sorry CP what I really meant (without saying it) was if they are so good why can't all schools be Academies?

Anonymous said...

And the hit was....? (Maybe you left that bit out).

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I agree with Mitch. Having just read your blog on this matter, I can't see why Willetts secured a big hit. Can you explain?

Anonymous said...

Is Chris Paul a stalking fool.

Anonymous said...

It's all over for the tories - see today's ICM poll in the Guardian. They're sinking fast.

No policies, No hope!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Willets the man who needs two brains? - one to hold Cameron's views on Grammer Schools and one to hold the Conservative view?

Anonymous said...

Academies are non-fee paying, non-selective state


Academies are privately-owned PFI schools leased from banks and developers which provide comprehensive education in rented accommodation

Hughes Views said...

Gosh what a huge hit, like being hit with a paper hankie. Are you sure you read this piece before posting it Iain?!

Anonymous said...

The problem with schools is not the amount of money spent on them, or the teachers or the pupils; it's the lack of discipline.

Bring on the voucher system and let the parents decide which school their kids attend.

Anonymous said...

Grammar Schools one day Johnson the next.Is he now going in the right direction?

Anonymous said...

I don't see the hit either.

How does stealing the Labour policy but promising to do it faster count as a victory?

The overall average performance where you have streaming/selection is higher. It is true that the lowest quarter do less well in a streamed environment but the best quarter do disproportionately better. Cameron and Willets are onto a loser with this line of attack and they are setting themselves up for charges of hypocrisy unless the Tory front bench all start sending their children to non-selective schools.

Anonymous said...

If you actually follow events in the Chamber from day to day, Iain, I think you nwill find that the Speaker quite commonly interrupts Ministers when they seek to use Question Time to question Opposition policies.

Anonymous said...

the Speaker quite commonly interrupts Ministers when they seek to use Question Time to question Opposition policies.

I can understand the confusion however as each party promises to implement the others programme....and i am just a voter !

Ralph said...

I think you nwill find that the Speaker quite commonly interrupts Ministers when they seek to use Question Time to question Opposition policies.


If you watch PMQs Blair's standard answer to any criticism from Cameron is to question Tory policy.

Martin is the worst Speaker for decades.

Anonymous said...

Ralph, Question Time does consist of more than PMQs.

Anonymous said...

Hypocrite of the day award must go to Keith Vaz.

He calls for the Head of Channel 4 to step down after the damning report on the utterly irrelevent shilpa shetty row- "its what happens in these situations", "I am sure he will get another job in the media"

He might wish to direct his comments towards totally offensive and incompetent ministers first such as Kelly,browne,mcnulty,hewitt,brown,straw,

Anonymous said...

Hypocrite of the day award must go to Keith Vaz

Why ? Leicester is his kingdom - he must lead "his people" and make sure their squeal is hard above the Muslim din.......squeaky wheels get grease