I'm on a Crusade to Make Our Bad Schools History; LABOUR EDUCATION CHIEF'S VOW TO KIDS:

The Mirror (London, England), October 28, 2013 | Go to article overview

I'm on a Crusade to Make Our Bad Schools History; LABOUR EDUCATION CHIEF'S VOW TO KIDS:


Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY JASON BEATTIE Political Editor

LABOUR will restore traditional values to the classroom in a crusade to drive up standards, its new education spokesman pledges.

Tristram Hunt warns schools will not be allowed to compromise on "attendance, punctuality, discipline and good manners".

He also says unqualified teachers must be trained or face the sack while he calls for heads to boot out the worst performing staff.

And he reveals Labour could bring back Education Maintenance Allowances for 16 to 18-year-olds.

Mr Hunt, 39, took over as Shadow Education Secretary just three weeks' ago, but he is already baring his teeth at Tory counterpart Michael Gove by taking him on over class sizes.

He says: "The Government has known we need 240,000 primary school places by 2015 and instead we have had a Secretary of State pursuing an ideological schools strategy and he hasn't done the basics.

"What are your basics? You have the right number of places for the kids and trained-up teachers ready to teach in those schools. On both fundamentals the Government is not delivering on competence. They cancelled our schools building project and now they are playing catch-up."

Mr Hunt acknowledges money will be tight after the 2015 election but this problem is a priority for him. He also says most schools are doing a "hell of a good job" but he will not allow bad teachers to wreck the life chances of youngsters from poor backgrounds.

Mr Hunt adds: "A bad teacher can damage kids' life chances exponentially and one in a school with disadvantaged pupils has an even worse impact.

"So there's no room for allowing a failure of teaching when it comes to disadvantaged teaching. The best heads know that and they have the powers to remove teachers."

One idea being looked at is paying better teachers in academies, comprehensives and free schools to work in schools that are struggling to get decent staff.

Labour will also insist full-time teachers, whether in state schools, academies or free schools, are fully qualified. Mr Hunt says: "We are not going to come in and sack teachers but we are going to say they have to work towards qualified teacher status or they have to go."

ONE of Mr Hunt's first acts in his new job was to drop Labour's blanket opposition to free schools. The privately educated MP, an exhistory lecturer, insists he is not "obsessed" with the type of school people go to. He adds: "We have a Government that thinks the job is done once you convert to a free school or academy - we start from the position that the most important factor is the quality of teaching. …

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