At a Banbury CLP Supper Club on Friday 12 September 2014, Guardian feature writer and former Secretary of State for Education, Estelle Morris, Baroness Morris of Yardley, expresses anger at the deception Michael Gove had perpetrated on the public, when he said, “Schools aren’t even doing the basics.” Estelle said, it was untruthful to talk endlessly about what schools ‘weren’t doing’ and it created insecurity.
Her worry was his focus on a ‘traditional’ curriculum based on a pedagogy that failed a generation ago, and her biggest worry was the Tories getting into power again because they would “rewrite Ofsted’s rules to judge standards on an out-dated pedagogy.”
Estelle welcomed the increase in university students and said; we have better educational standards than ever and the best generation of teachers we’ve ever had.
And with some irony she made a promise, “Some Academies will succeed and some will fail.” She advised the Labour Party not to fight over academies. She said, “governments only provide the structure and never deliver – it’s about what happens in the classroom between teachers and students that determine success or failure.”
She continued, “Vocational skills and further education should be our area – politicians have downgraded vocational work.” She harked back to the start of the Labour movement when we had craft unions, self-education and pride in what we could do with our hands. “If we can rediscover that pride again it can provide a gateway to a better life for people.”
And “whatever happened to Early Years education?” she asked. Gove ignored nursery provision, which had fallen off the Tories’ agenda as well as out-of-school learning. “We must look at learning opportunities for children during the 85% of their time they are not at school” she said.
Estelle called this a pivotal time for the Labour Party and said we “need to recast Labour values in a modern setting that fits.”