Peter Hoskin

Cameron’s growing attachment to schools reform

Cameron's growing attachment to schools reform
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A change of pace, that's what David Cameron offers in an article on schools reform for the Daily Telegraph this morning. A change of pace not just from the furious momentum of the eurozone crisis, but also in his government's education policy. From now on, he suggests, reform will go quicker and further. Instead of just focussing on those schools that are failing outright, the coalition will extend its ire to those schools that ‘drift along tolerating second best’. Rather than just singling out inner city schools, Cameron will also cast his disapproval at ‘teachers in shire counties… satisfied with half of children getting five good GCSEs’. And rightly so, I'd say.

In fact, the whole article is cause for optimism on a cold Monday morning. It encapsulates the coalition at its best. Rather than wheeling in a barrel-load of clunky, new legislation, it sounds as though they are determined to squeeze more out of existing structures and policies first; much as Michael Gove did with his academies programme last year. And the way they will do so is with transparency. Cameron talks about releasing more and more data on individual schools and pupils, so that parents can make their own decisions about which schools are succeeding or otherwise. As he puts it, ‘All this will allow people to spot the truth and confront failure where it exists.’

‘All this’ is also another example of Cameron associating himself more closely with schools reform, as he did during the last Tory party conference. A year ago, I bet it would have been Gove's byline appearing on an article like this, referencing terrific schools such as Mossbourne Academy and Burlington Danes Academy. Now, it's the Prime Minister's. The folk in No.10 clearly recognise a good thing when they see it.