David Blackburn

Another nail in Labour’s progressive coffin

Another nail in Labour's progressive coffin
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The day before A-level results are published, the Telegraph and the Independent report that traditional academic subjects, such as maths, physics and history are not being offered by a large minority of state schools. Here are the details: 

‘Around one in seven schools - 264 in total - did not enter any pupils for A-level geography in 2007 - the latest available information - and a similar proportion failed to enter students for physics.

Figures also show that more than one in 10 comprehensives did not enter pupils for A-level chemistry, while six percent failed to enroll candidates for maths and seven per cent shunned biology.

A further 145 schools - eight per cent - did not enter pupils for A-level history.’

This is another indictment of A-level league tables – suggesting that the annual rise in the A-level pass rate is the result of the government encouraging weaker schools to take ‘soft options’, such as media studies, law and healthcare, rather than a genuine improvement in standards, which would see more state school pupils going to good universities to read academic subjects. The Tory pledge to reform league tables is vindicated. A Conservative government would reward comprehensives that enter pupils for tough subjects, which they believe will improve the chances of underprivileged students obtaining a worthwhile degree.

But above all, these findings illustrate that government policy is contributing to widening class divisions, and that Labour no longer drives the progressive agenda. As Tory schools spokesman Nick Gibb put it: “They (the government) are cheating these children, many of whom are from more deprived backgrounds.” After this, Lord Mandelson cannot seriously insist that top universities socially engineer where the government has failed. Alan Milburn, whose damning social mobility report was ignored by the government that commissioned it, must be tearing his hair out.