The good, the bad and the ugly of the coalition’s reform agenda are all on display this morning. The good is the quickening of the pace in education. As Michael Gove tells this week’s Spectator, the 200 worst primary schools will now be taken over by new management, 88 failing secondary schools are to be converted into academies and any school where half the pupils are not reaching the basic standard of five good GCSEs including English and Maths will be earmarked for a takeover. Gove’s aim is remarkably simple: he wants good schools to take over bad ones.
The bad is yet another delay to the public service reform white paper, the longer things stay in the Whitehall system the less radical they become. Ending the state monopoly on the provision of public services is absolutely critical to raising standards in public services, making sure that the public gets more for less and giving purpose to the big society. If Cameron backtracks on this, it will be a sign that complacency is back and that the Prime Minister is happy to drift along to the next election.
The ugly is the dilution of the NHS reforms. Alan Milburn, Blair’s reforming health secretary who Andrew Lansley tried to recruit to run Monitor, is scathing about the matter in today’s Telegraph. He dubs the coalition compromise on health the "biggest car crash in NHS history". Most worryingly, he laments that "These changes will reverse hard-fought reforms".