LIVERPOOL peer Mike Storey today launches an outspoken attack on the government’s education policy – accusing fellow Liberal Democrats of “letting down” teachers and pupils.
The former city council leader takes swipes at a swathe of reforms, including changes to the curriculum, ‘free schools’ and extra funding for academies.
And he told The Post: “Teachers feel badly let down by the Coalition. And those who are natural supporters of the Liberal Democrats feel let down by us.”
Lord Storey, a former head teacher, spoke out just days after he was appointed to scrutinise his own government’s education plans, as the co-chairman of a backbench parliamentary committee, from January.
Lib Dem MPs and peers meet once a week – with a minister, plus lecturers and directors of education – to raise concerns in a set-up described as an attempt to ensure Coalition policy is not “too Tory”.
Lord Storey said the committee’s work was vital for his party.
He said: “It’s very important that the Liberal Democrats have their own identity in parliament.”
And he heaped praise on “impressive” Lib Dem gains in education, including no overall cuts, the ‘pupil premium’ for poorer pupils, earlier help for struggling pupils and nursery places for the poorest two-year-olds.
But he attacked the agenda of Michael Gove, the Conservative Education Secretary, including:
The blizzard of policy changes since 2010 - many “not based on hard research and hard facts”.
Higher funding for independent academies, saying: “It’s wrong that academies get more money and comprehensive schools get less.”
Allowing untrained teachers to work in free schools – set up by parents, teachers or non-profit groups – explaining: “Children deserve better than that.”
Denying local authorities any say over academies, saying: “Local people have knowledge and expertise, they have their fingers on the pulse. To sever that completely is mad”
The new ‘English Baccalaureate Certificate’ for appearing to relegate the likes of music and art for a more academic curriculum.
Lord Storey said: “The EBacc should recognise creative subjects have just as much value as academic subjects and that some of our most successful companies are in the creative field.”