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Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, in a speech on education at Haverstock School, said:
It is great to be back at Haverstock.
I want to pay tribute to you, John, for being such a brilliant head teacher, who is so serious about aspiration, achievement and giving every student the chance to succeed.
I come back here with a great sense of pride and, of course, like any of us going back to our old school, I confess, a faint whiff of trepidation.
Have I remembered to do my maths homework?
But what I will always remember from Haverstock, is the extraordinary commitment of great teachers and the liberating power of what they did.
Steve Carlsson who taught me maths and got me through double maths A level.
Miriam Rosen who helped me through A level physics.
And Chris Dunne who recently retired as head teacher at Langdon Park, in East London, and taught me A level English.
I have huge cause to be grateful to Haverstock and not just because of the academic education it gave me.
But also because it educated me for life.
Being at a school with 60 something nationalities, a huge diversity of abilities and background, was part of the richness of experience and taught me to cope with a lot.
If any parents of any future leaders of the opposition are looking for somewhere to send their kids, I would recommend Haverstock.
And so, in setting my case for what the next Labour government would do in education, there could be no better place to come.
My cause and my case today are based on the same set of ideals as Labour people down the ages.
My vision for education is shaped by my belief in equal opportunity, built for the modern world.
It is based on the idea that education gives people a passport to a good life.
A means not just of learning but of earning a decent living, transcending circumstance, understanding how to be part of a community and venturing into new worlds.
This has always been true.
But now we must adapt this vision to the 21st century.
An era where young people have more opportunity open to them than ever before, as globalisation brings the world closer together and technology opens up so many possibilities.
But at the same time, where those young people often face more pressures than ever before.
Financial pressures in their own family.
Peer pressures turbo-charged by the internet.
And the pathways into adulthood and careers so much less certain than they used to be.
Indeed the biggest challenge we face is preparing our young people for the economy of the future, not of yesterday.
In the 21st century, world class education isn’t a luxury for the individual.
It’s a necessity.
If young people are to succeed, they can’t do so without the right skills and knowledge.
The ability to adapt throughout their working life, to keep gaining new skills and to make the most of new technologies.
And if this educational imperative is true for individuals, it is true on a bigger scale for our country.
The generational question facing us is whether we are fated to be an economy and a country in which a few people do fabulously well, while most people work harder and harder just to keep their place.
If we do not give every young person the skills and knowledge they need we will lock in a two tier economy.
This is about our productivity as a country.
And the skills of our young people are the key to building the different kind of economy we need.
Which works for all and not just for some.
Because in the 21st century, when companies can move across borders, it is the skills and talents of a people that is the unique national asset.
And I believe there is a growing consensus that for Britain’s young people to succeed, for British business to succeed and for Britain to succeed we need a different set of priorities in our schools.
A better education today for the economy of tomorrow.
All of this means putting behind us the Conservative approach to education: narrow, centralising and backward-looking, failing to invest in our young people’s future.
We need a new plan.
A broad, not narrow curriculum, offering creativity and the best in both vocational and academic skills.
A focus on the highest standards in every single classroom, not simply an obsession with structures or a focus on a few successful schools.
A recognition that the single most important thing to make for educational success are good teachers who pass on knowledge and instil a sense of how to learn.
An understanding that teaching character, citizenship and resilience must be part of modern education, both because they are part of academic success and because school today must be about more than passing exams.
And finally a commitment to put our money where our mouth is and invest in education.
Because our children are our future.
And there is no more important decision that our country can make.
First, let me start with what we expect of our young people and what kind of curriculum we have.
When I was at Haverstock, nearly half of young people across our country left school at 16.
Indeed there was something called “Easter leaving”, where people actually left before taking any exams.
That wasn’t right for that era.
And it certainly isn’t for today.
This year marks the moment, thanks to the last Labour government, in which every young person is expected to remain in education of some form until 18.
This is right and reflects the demands of the world in which we live.
And it also reflects the truth that I know from my time at Haverstock.
Those who left here without qualifications were not without talent, ability and potential.
Quite the opposite.
We need an education system that brings out the talents of every single person.
This is a very different direction from education policy under this government.
We will ensure equal respect right across the curriculum, vocational, academic and creative subjects.
Rather than what we see under this government, we’ve seen the ending of old vocational subjects without the creation of good, new ones.
And this comes on top of decades when we have never cracked the need for parity of esteem between academic and vocational education.
The first focus of the next Labour government will be on putting all this right.
To this end, we will introduce a new gold standard Technical Baccalaureate, so that if you’re a 14 year-old, you know what you’re aiming for in both vocational as well as academic qualifications.
We will build around this, proper work experience compulsory for all as part of the school curriculum.
And we will have a revolution in apprenticeships so that opportunities and careers will be available for all young people after they leave school and college.
And we will also redress this government’s attempts to downgrade the creative subjects, like drama, art, design and technology.
These are subjects that are going to be in big demand in a world where, for example, creative industries are our second most important source of wealth.
And these are subjects that excite kids about education, improving general academic performance as well.
We have also to do more to support students with special needs, to help them fulfil all of their potential.
And our plan for the curriculum will be underpinned by putting right one of the biggest problems that we’ve seen under this government: the failure of careers advice.
Just one in five schools are rated by Ofsted as providing satisfactory careers advice.
And there is very strong evidence that this is failing our young people.
We will turn that round.
So we start with a plan for education that serves the talents of all our young people.
The second principle is that a broad curriculum must be underpinned by the highest standards.
High aspirations for all our children in every community is an essential part of the modern education system we need.
We should never excuse failure or tolerate it.
And we should always be the eternal warriors for higher standards.
This has always been true and in a world where we will prosper as a country on the skills of every person it is even more important.
We have learned so much about what makes for high performing schools in the decades since I was here at Haverstock.
That was part of the insight behind what the last Labour government achieved.
Perhaps the best example is the London challenge, which saw a transformation of education in London, including through the academy programme.
In 1997, less than a third of London school students achieved five or more GCSEs at A to C.
That rose to almost two thirds.
This government has talked about the need for higher standards in education.
But they have the wrong idea about how to achieve it and that’s why they have failed.
They took a good idea – the academy programme – and tried to force every school to become one.
And they took a wrong-headed idea – Free Schools – that had decidedly mixed results elsewhere and assumed it was a panacea.
Both have turned out to be mistakes.
Because you can’t run every school from Whitehall, which is what their decisions on academies has driven them to.
Because while some Free Schools are doing well, we have had disastrous other examples because of the failure of oversight, with parents feeling completely powerless to do anything about it.
And more importantly this government has ended up in an obsession with structures rather than standards across the board.
And what have the results of all this been?
The attainment gap between disadvantaged children and everyone else is actually growing wider.
And we have a school system crying out for accountability to parents and children.
It is up to the next Labour government to make sense of the mess that this government will leave us with.
To improve standards in every part of the country not by turning the clock back but by ensuring proper accountability within the diversity of provision that we have.
We want all head teachers to have the powers currently given to academy heads.
But we also want every school to be locally accountable and to work together to drive up standards.
And that is what our new Directors of School Standards will ensure.
And they will have a specific mission to drive up standards in every type of local school: local authority-run, academies and Free Schools.
And they will have clear objectives, set at appointment.
To give one very practical example of our priority: we must now do the same in terms of driving up standards in every region emulating the success the last Labour government had in London and other large cities.
And parents will no longer be powerless.
They will have the right to call in the Directors of School Standards if they are worried about what’s going on in their school.
The mission of the next Labour government will be to drive up standards across the whole school system.
The third part of our plan is based on the idea that there is nothing more important to successful education than good teachers.
I know it from my own experience.
We all know it.
And in a world where what matters for our children it is not simply knowing one set of facts but an ability to learn new things, it means the skills of teachers need to be even broader than before.
I am very proud of what the last Labour government did to respect and recognise the teaching profession.
Not just more teachers, properly rewarded.
But classroom assistants, to help free up teachers’ time.
Smaller class sizes in infant schools.
Establishing Teach First.
No government gets everything right but so many teachers I have met recognise the contrast with the Gove era and what has followed.
His contempt for the profession.
His disdain for teachers he called “the enemies of promise”.
His sneering disrespect for educators in general, what he called “the blob”.
His apparent belief that a war on teachers would improve education.
It has failed.
50,000 experienced, qualified teachers have left the profession in this year alone.
There are massive problems of recruitment throughout teaching.
Nobody could possibly call this a success.
And indeed if it was a great success, the Prime Minister wouldn’t have sacked Michael Gove.
But to get a new start for the teaching profession, we need a different government.
Not what we have now, which is Gove in all but name.
We now have 17,000 unqualified teachers in our classrooms, when all the evidence is that qualified teachers are best.
The government proposes to do nothing about it.
We will put an end to it, demanding that all teachers work towards qualified teacher status
We will support teachers to learn new skills and develop their talent.
We will create a new status of Master Teacher to which they can aspire.
And we will stop denigrating the profession.
But I know also the vast majority of good teachers want what parents want: colleagues who are not up to the mark to be helped to improve, not allowed to continue to fail.
That is why we will support a National College of Teaching and a programme for re-certifying teachers over time to help ensure teachers keep their skills and knowledge up to date.
Because we owe a duty to our children to ensure that we are constantly vigilant about raising standards in the profession.
And unlike this government we also recognise that successful teaching and classroom discipline is made harder when classes are so much bigger.
Since 2010, the number of the youngest children taught in classes bigger than 30 has gone up by almost 60,000.
It is treble the number it was.
And it is set to get far worse.
Our plan will turn this round.
Currently, the government is spending money on new Free Schools, in areas where there are surplus places.
This simply makes no sense when class sizes are rising in the way they are.
Or when people can’t get their kids into the good schools they want.
So, by ending the scandalous waste of money from building new schools in areas of surplus places, we will create more places where they are needed.
This will allow us to cap class sizes for 5, 6, and 7 year olds at no more than 30 pupils.
I want every child to have the experience I had of great teaching here.
And I want every teacher to know that we are going to firmly turn the page from the Gove era, replacing it with a partnership for higher standards.
Our fourth principle is that we should be preparing our young people to be citizens of our country, to take advantage of the opportunities of the modern world and to cope with its challenges.
That’s why education is about more than passing exams.
One in ten of our young people face mental health challenges.
So of course education must be about helping them cope with these challenges.
That is why we have said teachers need to be equipped with understanding of mental health.
We would introduce age-appropriate sex and relationship education in all schools.
Because it is the right thing to do to prepare our children for adulthood and its challenges.
And, of course, this insight of character, resilience and citizenship goes beyond simply dealing with these pressures.
It is about extra-curricular activity in our schools, including sport, which is why we have pledged to give every young person two-hours of organised sport a week.
And it is about giving a proper voice to our young people in our schools and in our society.
A Labour government would introduce votes at 16 by May 2016.
And, alongside that, working with teachers, we will re-design the curriculum for citizenship education to prepare our young people for that responsibility.
The best schools give their young people a sense of can-do aspiration and an ability to cope with the challenges life will bring.
And that is how the school experience should be for all.
The fifth part of our plan is to underpin all of this with investment in our future.
I am incredibly proud to be standing here at Haverstock: a school rebuilt because of a Labour government’s commitment to education.
There is no more important investment in our country’s future.
For the sake of our young people and our economic success.
You can’t build a 21st century economy on falling investment in education.
This government used to say it would protect schools.
But last week the Prime Minister abandoned that commitment and said he would cut schools spending.
Driven by his plan to cut back public spending as a share of national income to 1930s levels, an era when children left school at 14.
We will take a different path.
And we can do it because we have a sensible, balanced approach to deficit reduction.
Not a dangerous and extreme one.
This government will not achieve its plans on deficit reduction with their plans to cut education spending.
Because we can only balance the books by creating the high wage, high skill jobs we need.
I can announce that the next Labour government will ensure that spending on our schools rises by as at least as much as inflation.
In other words, it will be protected in real terms.
And we will go further.
Because all of us know that the success of our children depends so much on the first steps children take in the early years and the further education they go on to.
David Cameron has had nothing to say about any of these areas.
So we can only assume he is planning big cuts in spending.
This will short-change our children’s future.
If we are to act on the principle that education is the passport to success in life for individuals and our nation’s economy, we must be willing to invest.
In the early years.
And in further education.
The next Labour government will protect the overall education budget.
Protected in real terms.
Not cut as they will be under the Conservatives.
Because our future prosperity depends on our young people.
And we will not, we must not, let them down.
They are the best investment we will ever make.
Of course, supporting education at times when there is a deficit to reduce, means we will have to make tough decisions elsewhere.
And, in these circumstances, it is more important than ever that the people and businesses of our country who pay their taxes, know that everyone is playing their part.
And that the rules make sure they do.
Because those taxes pay for brilliant schools like this, upon which our future prosperity depends.
This government likes to talk big on tax avoidance.
But it acts small.
It has failed to take on the tax havens.
Failed to act properly against tax avoidance.
Yesterday a Conservative donor, Lord Fink, challenged me to stand by what I said in the House of Commons that he was engaging in tax avoidance activities.
And now today he confirms it.
He says “I didn’t object to his use of the word tax avoidance. Because you are right: tax avoidance, everyone does it”
Now David Cameron must explain why he appointed Treasurer of the Conservative Party someone who boasts about engaging tax avoidance and thinks it is something everyone does.
Because this is the big choice facing our country:
A choice between an old economy defended by this government in which a blind eye is turned to tax avoidance.
And a new economy built by investing in the talents and education of all our young people.
There are two very different plans for Britain at this election.
There is one plan - the Tory plan - that focuses on just a few.
That success will come from tax cuts for the wealthiest, stripping the rest of government back to the very bone, public spending at levels not seen since the 1930s.
Cuts to education.
Risking your children’s future and our economy’s future too.
And there is another plan - a Labour plan - that says we build long-term, enduring success for ourselves as a nation - only when we support all Britain’s people.
Balancing the books responsibly, while making smart investments in our future.
And there’s no smarter investment to make than in education.
Our young people are our future.
So let’s give them the best future we can.
With a plan that nurtures every talent of every child.
A curriculum that meets their needs.
The highest standards in schools right across the country.
The best possible teaching in every classroom.
Class sizes capped in our primary schools.
Long-term investment, protected every year, in our schools and colleges.
That’s what Labour’s better plan for education will do.
That’s what together we can achieve.
Let’s go out and build that future together.