I was pleased when I heard that Lord Adonis had Ed Miliband's policy advisor as I hoped it would mean the Party resolving to support the Government's policies of allowing free schools to open and more schools to convert to become academies. That would have been good for the Labour Party but it would also have been in the national interest for school choice to be a matter of consensus.
But Labour continue to face both ways on this issue – with Adonis, reversing his previous support for the Coalition’s academies programme.
Adonis had previously said he and Tony Blair ‘wanted all schools to be eligible for academy status’ and given his "support" to the Coalition’s expansion of academies to existing schools.
But interviewed on the Daily Politics on Tuesday, he described the policy as a "gimmick."
Far from resolving matters the appointment of Lord Adonis leaves Labour policy as muddled as ever.
Adonis on Academies
"Neither I nor Tony Blair believed that academies should be restricted to areas with failing schools. We wanted all schools to be eligible for academy status… The coalition is taking the academies movement further, it is making it possible for more successful schools to become academies too and I support that," (The Spectator, 13 January 2011).
"The numbers that were given about the big expansion of academies, let’s be clear what’s happened, it’s not replacement schools for underperforming comprehensives or new schools in areas of disadvantage, most of them are simply existing schools changing the label at the front of the school, to becoming an academy from an existing school.
"No change in their governance at all, simply to pocket £25,000 that the Government gives them for changing. I don’t call that a public service reform, I call that just a gimmick." (BBC Two, Daily Politics, 22 May 2012).
Adonis on Free Schools
"We [Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis] were enthusiastic about the idea of entirely new schools being established on the academy model, as in Michael Gove’s Free Schools policy’. Question: What does Adonis think of free schools? Adonis: ‘I support them. I have no problem with free schools at all. As you know I am a strong supporter of diversity in the state system and independently managed schools. Provided the schools are funded fairly and they don’t have unfair admissions practices, then I think having greater diversity of schools is a good thing." (The Spectator, 13 January 2011).
"What we have said is we will look at free schools case by case, on their merits… On the specific point of free schools, free schools should be concentrated in areas where educational standards are low and where children are being failed at the moment. Not simply a quest for establishing more schools for the sake of it." (BBC Two, Daily Politics, 22 May 2012).
Blair backs the Coalition’s academies
It would be ‘bizarre’ to oppose the Coalition’s expansion of Academies. ‘There are elements of the reform programme that we were doing in government that the present Conservative government are continuing, in other areas they’re not. So it would be bizarre if I were to say, you know I don’t agree with them doing the Academy programme — why would I want to say that?’ The Times, 9 June 2011
It’s ‘great’ that the government is taking forward the Academies programme. ‘I think some of the technical aspects of reform – competition in the NHS, putting the patient first, breaking up the traditional state school system in favour of academies and trust schools – these were things we started. You start something – and if the idea works and is a good idea and people take it forward, that is great’ The Sun, 15 June 2011