Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham's speech at the Labour Conference included comments supporting and opposing free schools and academies.

He throws money at his favoured schools – free schools and academies – and treats the rest as if they don't matter.

Is Burnham suggesting the free schools that are opening are costing more to set up than the new schools opened under Labour? If so I suggest he checks his figure.

He adds:

Here we are in 2011 and we have the spectacle of a Tory Education Secretary promoting Latin and Ancient Greek over Engineering, ICT and Business Studies.


Make no mistake – Gove's academies are not Labour's academies. We focused on areas of real need; he gives more to the best-performing schools.

Burnham objects to the "weakened admission code". He implicitly opposes successful schools being able to gain the independence of academy status and that academies should have less freedom. There are a lot more schools becoming "Gove's academies" than "Labour's academies." Do schools such as Archbishop Sentamu Academy feel they have too much freedom to run their own affairs?

Then he says:

We shouldn't judge any school by its structure or status. We should judge them by their values and achievements.

Free schools and academies can embody the comprehensive ideal.

But Conference, make no mistake, that ideal is under attack.

So what does this mean for the parents in my ward sending their children to the West London Free School? Would a Labour Government close the school or not? Would it allow it to continue but prohibit it from teaching Latin (for suspecting in some muddled way it breaches the "comprehensive ideal")?

There are plenty of parents in my ward – rich and poor, black and white – who are delighted their children will be taught Latin. They don't see why the subject should only be taught at independent schools. Parents in my ward who don't want their children taught Latin can send them elsewhere. Why is Burnham proposing to deny choice?

Since his policy is a fudge we are left to guess what it would mean.

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