Get a grip on city schools

Councillor Andrew Wealls

Councillor Andrew Wealls

First published in Letters

Residents could be forgiven for being confused about Labour Party policy on education in Brighton & Hove.

Councillor Pissaridou, Labour Spokesperson for Children & Young People, in her letter: ‘Tories will take us back to the bad old days’ is wrong on so many levels.

It is ridiculous to suggest that increased rigour in examinations somehow suggests we are returning to the 11+.

After years of grade inflation under previous Labour and Conservative governments, GCSEs are now being tightened up, with consistent standards, so their value is apparent to employers and further education colleges.

For example, the discredited ‘speaking and listening’ part of the English GCSE qualification has rightly been dropped.

The government has also dropped some vocational qualifications from inclusion in the tables.

Whilst BTECs do have significant value, do we really want a level 2 BTEC in horse care to be the equivalent of four GCSEs at Grade C?

School performance tables are now compiled using a pupil’s first result in an exam, not the results after several re-takes.

Pupils can still re-take exams They just won’t be recorded as the school’s headline performance.

Lastly she really needs to get a grip on Labour policy on schools in the city.

She dismisses the article I co-authored with the founder of The Education Foundation (and Labour Party member), yet her own Labour Parliamentary candidate’s office describes the article as ‘what we’ve been saying for a long time’.

And what does ‘seek to put schools in local hands’ mean? Academies and Free Schools (albeit with modifications) will stay if Labour win.

A return to the bad old days would be a return to grade inflation, employers not respecting GCSEs as a worthwhile qualification, universities questioning the rigour of A levels, and England dropping down international performance league tables?

Councillor Andrew Wealls, Opposition Spokesman for Children & Young People

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