Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"New Labour... a dismal, disappointing embarrassment"

A verdict on Blair from an insider, Derek Draper, who was a spin doctor for New Labour, now a new father and with a personal interest in the future of education:

"Exactly two weeks ago ... I realised all the cliches were true. When our baby was born the foundations of our life really did change, she is indeed a little bundle of joy and I would happily lay down my life for hers. You do get completely obsessed.

... My old boss Peter Mandelson attacked Labour's education bill rebels last week from his exile in Brussels, asserting that anyone who disagreed with Blair's approach to reform of the public services is a 'Bennite'. I think maybe Peter's mind-numbing EU trade negotiations have befuddled his brain. It is ludicrous - indeed laughable - to apply that label to, among others, Neil Kinnock. When I worked for Peter he had little knowledge of and even less interest in education - or indeed any other domestic policy. It is a similar focus on foreign policy adventurism and spin that have condemned Blair to end his long spell in office with no domestic policy legacy. That he should even now be flailing around tinkering with the education system when he made it his avowed priority over a decade ago tells you all you need to know. New labour is ending as a dismal, disappointing embarrassment."

Evening Standard magazine, 24.3.2006

Cf:

Exams cut by third as stress on pupils soars

"The true level of pressure facing children was laid bare last night as Britain's most senior exams official admitted pupils faced a huge and excessive exam load that had distorted the balance of what was taught in schools.
...
'The assessment load is huge,' Boston said. 'It is far greater than in other countries and not necessary for the purpose. We are pushing for the overall burden of assessment to be reduced.'
...
For many, the announcement could not have come sooner. Chris Keates, the general secretary of the teaching union the NASUWT, said: 'We don't need Ken Boston to tell us the problem; we need Ken Boston to deal with it. We have been raising concerns about the enormous assessment burden on schools for a number of years.'
James Marshall, head of English at the independent Shrewsbury School, said it was a welcome U-turn. 'The obsession with a culture of targets, bite-sized modules and endless re-testing hasn't benefited anyone. I would welcome any reforms that reduce the amount of needless testing in schools.'"

Anushka Asthana, education correspondent, March 26, 2006, The Observer

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1739868,00.html

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