Shadow education minister under fire for 800-word speech offering ‘no ideas’


Labour has pledged to roll-out the London Challenge scheme across the country and to reintroduce the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB).

However, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt’s notably short speech at the Labour Party Conference last week has been attacked for lacking ideas.

Mr Hunt spoke to Labour Party members and delegates in Manchester, but the text of his address ran to little more than 800 words.

He said a Labour government would legislate for childcare support at schools from 8am to 6pm, including breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and extra-curricular activities. He said this would help to build “character and resilience in pupils”.

He said his plans would rely on the “hidden army of our schools” – support staff – and said it was “time their contribution was recognised”.

He said: “This Tory government scrapped plans for a School Support Staff Negotiating Body. The next Labour government will re-establish that negotiating body for the lowest paid; to deliver dignity at work for those who ensure our young people succeed.”

The SSSNB was culled by the coalition shortly after it came to office as part of its deregulation agenda. It has been in the process of developing a national pay and conditions framework for school support staff.

Elsewhere, Mr Hunt said the national roll-out of the London Challenge scheme would “tackle poor results and (raise) standards in our coastal towns, counties, and regional cities” and would be based on “partnership and collaboration”.

London Challenge, which launched in 2003, is credited with helping to transform outcomes in schools across the capital. Based on in-depth data analysis, it created families of schools facing similar challenges to work together to drive school improvement. 

Elsewhere, Mr Hunt said that Labour would create a vocational education system to “rival Germany’s”.

He said this would include “proper Apprenticeships lasting two years”, a technical Baccalaureate, careers advice and technical degrees.

Mr Hunt also restated his view that all teachers must have qualified teacher status and access to on-going CPD.

He said: “All teachers must be qualified. Then greater training to make sure, year-on-year, teachers become better and better at their job.”

However, tweeting from the auditorium, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the speech lacked ideas and was “very, very short”.

She wrote: “There are half a million teachers in England and Wales – what is Labour’s offer to them? No ideas from this speech.

“What about qualification reform? Teacher morale? Ofsted? CPD? Teacher workload? What is Labour’s offer to teachers?”

She added: “Very, very short speech. Is that it?”



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