Is the Future Comprehensive?

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Owen Jones - one of the panel of speakers
Owen Jones – one of the panel of speakers

To judge by the extremely well attended Labour Party conference fringe meeting celebrating the achievements of state education, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’ 150 enthusiastic delegates crowded into a large room in a Manchester hotel on Sunday evening to hear Fiona Millar,  headteacher Patsy Kane, Simon Barrow from Accord and Owen Jones highlight how comprehensive education has improved the educational attainment of working class youngsters in particular over the last 50 or so years. Speakers were keen not only to hear about past achievements but also how to protect and develop the notion of education as a public service in the future. Having just heard Tristram Hunt’s somewhat sparse keynote conference address there was some anxiety about the robustness of Labour’s opposition to the Govian ‘reforms’. Whilst many understood his defence of Labour’s academies programme, others wanted to hear how local democratic accountability would dovetail with  David Blunkett’s Directors of School Standards. And indeed precisely how the much desired collaborative model espoused by Tristram would actually work. There is clearly still work to do in ensuring that the manifesto will embody what the vast majority of Labour activists want and what virtually all parents want for their children  – a good local school for all.

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