This week's Islington Tribune reports the sad story of a local primary school which appears to be floundering.
Apparently, 78% of the children at Clerkenwell Parochial are failing to meet the Government's 'maths targets'; 96% are failing to meet the 'writing targets'. 20 children have removed from the school by their parents in recent weeks(including one child of a parent govenor).
Who is to blame? The school? The parents? Islington LEA? The Government? All four? And what is the relative weight of blame to be attached to each? A tricky question, even for those with first-hand knowledge of the situation, which I certainly don't.
But what is clear is that after 10 years of Tony Blair, new Labour has failed to deliver what it promised...And this in the spiritual home of new Labour!
Fortunately, Think Tanks in the conservative constelletion have been giving serious and detailed thought to analysing the situation and what to do about it. The Policy Exchange publication More Good School Places shows in detail how, in so many cases, state education is still failing to deliver what was promised of it. But encouragingly, the document also charts a way forward.
Key to improving education in their view is the opening up the provision of education services to new providers. The power of Local Education Authorities to monopolise the supply of education services should be removed. Money should follow the pupil much more than it does at present. Bureaucracy and Government interference should be drastically reduced. Schools should be accountable primarily to parents, not council officials or the man (or woman) in Whitehall.
There is much more in there. It is a must read for those concerned to find a way to deliver genuine improvements in the standard of state education in this country.
One thing is for certain: Labour new and old have been tried and found wanting.
If the Conservative Party is to present a coherent and radical agenda for improving education, David Cameron should show that he is serious about the ideas argued for by think tanks such as Policy Exchange.
"Once back here I got to thinking - 'how do I get out of this?' Perhaps the really haunting spectre is that I would have to turn my back on the lake, and the prospect of the sword." Alan Clark, Diaries - 19th May 1999