Gove is the roadblock to Burnham’s calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspiration

Andy Burnham called today for Labour to go further than Blair’s call of “education, education, education”, saying that their new priorities must be “aspiration, aspiration, aspiration”. Miliband yesterday raised the issue in his own way:

[The] truth is that the problem in some of our schools is not just investment. It’s also about values. Of bright children held back when aspirations are low. Or when closed circles at the top of society shut them out. In any one year more than a quarter of our schools don’t even send 5 kids to the most competitive universities. Is anyone seriously telling me that there aren’t pupils at any of those schools who are good enough to go?

Although some universities will be smarting at the implication that they are not trying hard enough to reach out to students with deprived backgrounds, the lack of aspiration is a real problem. The number of students who are told by their school not to bother applying makes any access effort by the universities themselves wasted. Burnham today echoed Miliband’s calls for aspiration for the brightest, regardless of class, calling for a Labour alternative to Gove’s English Baccalaureate:

A curriculum that sets high ambitions for everyone in English and Maths. A curriculum that gets young people ready for the modern world where they can expect to have around 10 job changes and will need different skills and qualities to succeed. Not segregated routes between academic and vocational education but a true Baccalaureate. A unified programme of study geared to the needs of the 21st century: stretching the brightest, yes, but giving all children a relevant route and a solid qualification behind them.

And he made a strong argument that Labour would stand apart from Gove’s plan by calling for aspiration for all students, not just those on a path to the top universities, by re-hauling the apprenticeship system:

Young people on the university path know what is expected if they are to make the grade. I want young people who aspire to apprenticeships to have the same clarity, ambition and sense of purpose. I want them to be able to find out and apply for them in exactly the same way as people apply for university. So let’s look at a national UCAS-style system for apprenticeships, raising sights, rewarding those who work hardest, giving all children hope and a goal in life.

So whereas the Conservative plan to “give [young people] back their future” involves Tuition fees trebled to £9,000, the abolition of Education Maintenance Allowance, £200 million cuts to careers services, record youth unemployment, Tory councils charging poor kids to access playgrounds, cuts to Sure Start, and cuts to free school meals, the Labour plan for aspiration for the youth involves making the top universities accessible for every social background, and putting in place a curriculum that aids students of every ability. That is a comparison which must look quite concerning for Gove and co.

See also:

Fees, cuts… Is this what Cameron means by “giving young people back their future”?Shamik Das, September 14th 2011

Burnham: “What on Earth is Simon Hughes’ job all about?”Shamik Das, January 20th 2011

Look Left – Johnson and Coulson quit as everyone forgets about BlairShamik Das, January 21st 2011

League tables show Gove’s lack of ambition on underperforming schoolsRick Muir, January 13th 2011

12 Responses to “Gove is the roadblock to Burnham’s calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspiration”

  1. Andrew Little

    Gove is the roadblock to Burnham's calls of aspiration: http://t.co/MiWZ7fhz by @alexhern #lab11

  2. Political Planet

    Gove is the roadblock to Burnham’s calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspiration: Andy Burnham called today for La… http://t.co/3IM4MkM9

  3. Michael

    Gove is the roadblock to Burnham’s calls of aspiration l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/p0iR8e

  4. Neil Walshaw

    Gove is the roadblock to Burnham’s calls of aspiration l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/p0iR8e

  5. Toby Young

    This is quite bizarre. The current Secretary of State for Education has made it crystal clear he wants all children to tackle the EBacc, not just the most able. According to your summary of Burnham’s speech, he wrongly criticised Michael Gove for wanting to create “segregated routes between academic and vocational education”, then said the difference between Labour’s policy and the Coalition’s is that he’d … er … create segregated routes between academic and vocational education, with those who are “good enough” (Miliband) going to “competitive universities” and the rest doing apprenticeships. So Burnham criticised Gove for doing something he’s not proposing to do then volunteered that Labour would do precisely that? Was his speech really that intellectually incoherent? Surely you’re being unkind?

  6. Robert the crip

    Well I think labour went from charging nothing for students to charging £3000 That’s a hike, but in the end what ever labour now offers it is meaningless after what Blair offered and did not do, better education people being allowed in to universities, except of course they are not.

    With Miliband now looking back at Thatcher and telling us she was right, I suspect next we will see Grammar schools back.

  7. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Gove is the roadblock to Burnham's calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspiration http://t.co/saBVxHzI

  8. Labour’s ModBacc offers a chance to get with the programme | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • Gove is the roadblock to Burnham’s calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspiration – Alex Hern, September 29th […]

  9. Mr. Sensible

    It is simply wrong for Gove to try and shoehorn all students in to academia, and so what Burnham is suggesting makes a lot more sense.

  10. Deptford Says NO

    RT @leftfootfwd: Gove is the roadblock to Burnham's calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspiration http://t.co/r28pZrO9

  11. louise gittins

    @andyburnhammp RT @leftfootfwd: Gove is the roadblock to Burnham's calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspiration http://t.co/sowY3NCH”

  12. Gove can't even do a puff piece right | Left Foot Forward

    […] manage to highlight a worrying statistic from British education (albeit one much the same as that highlighted by Miliband last week), saying: “The big divide in English education is between rich and […]

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