Yet in his speech, delivered at his old school, Haverstock in Camden, Miliband also backed more personal, social and citizenship education, arguing that school should be more than just about passing exams. In doing so he also hinted that Labour would give 16 year olds the vote –an initiative which would surely lead to pressure for greater democracy and more say for young people, over the way schools are run.
But in attacking Michael Gove’s reforms as ‘narrow and backwards looking’, Miliband simply ground-out Neo-liberal Blairite rhetoric about the role of education (the ‘passport to success’) in providing the skills to enable young people to compete in the global market place and reiterated the now redundant post-war social democratic ideals about education’s role in challenging social inequalities and promoting more social mobility.
Ignoring the realities and implications of economic decline, downwards social mobility, increased poverty and labour market stagnation, this means that schools will continue to be pushed to ‘improve’ using data-driven targets, reinforced by Ofsted inspections, league tables and with teachers pay being tied to pupil performance. In rejecting ‘sausage machine’ schooling, whatever Tristram Hunt may think, Natalie Bennett and the Greens are far in advance of Labour.