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Extracts from the response of Michael Gove MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Schools, Children and Families, to Ed Balls’ "Children Plan."

Labour’s approach has failed Britain’s children: "The Secretary of State is right that our children face a world that is full of greater opportunities and greater risks than ever before. However, the background to the children’s plan, sadly, is a world in which our children are falling behind those of other nations. Last week, we discovered that we have fallen from fourth to 14th in the international league tables for science, from seventh to 17th for reading, and from eighth to 24th for maths. How does the Secretary of State explain why we were in the top 10 for all those subjects when the children sitting the tests had the majority of their education under a Conservative Government, whereas we plummeted down the rankings, relegated to the second division, when those sitting the tests had all their education under a Labour Government? Is not every external audit of our education system a story of Labour failure? Is not it time to acknowledge the limitations of the top-down micro-management and political interference of the old Labour approach and embrace genuine reform?"

Today’s statement is a missed opportunity: "I fear that today will be remembered as a great missed opportunity for the Government. Instead of a clear picture for our children’s future, we have an underwhelming collage, with items stuck on any old how and no underlying vision. Why are there no proposals to give parents the right to take their children from a failing school and place them in a good new school? Why is there no determination to give teachers the power to impose effective discipline by excluding disruptive pupils without having teachers second-guessed by those outside the school? Why, instead of giving more schools academy-style freedoms to innovate and drive up standards, is the Secretary of State still restricting the freedoms of existing academies?  Is not it the case that, ultimately, instead of a broad and deep vision, we have a disappointingly hesitant and patchy programme, which betrays an itch to intervene but no grasp of the genuine problems? Is not it clear that, unless we learn from abroad and reform our education system to meet the challenge of global competition, we will fall further behind and the Government will fail future generations?"

More from Hansard here.

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