MP joins attack on education proposals

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CALDER VALLEY MP CHRIS MCCAFFERTY is backing the Alternative White Paper on education which is being put forward by Labour rebels, ex-ministers and normally loyal Labour backbenchers. It is entitled 'Shaping the Education Bill - Reaching for Consensus'.

Calder Valley MP Chris McCafferty has joined senior Labour politicians in publishing their response to the government's Education White Paper. This document offers a basis for discussion in advance of the forthcoming Education Bill.

The prime minister, who has personally backed the plans for trust schools, is facing a serious revolt from Ms McCafferty and others; there is speculation that he will need Conservative support to get the plans through parliament.

Over 50 Labour MPs have already endorsed the document, 'Shaping the Education Bill - Reaching for Consensus' which was written by Estelle Morris, former Secretary of State for Education, and former government ministers, John Denham, Angela Eagle, Nick Raynsford, and Alan Whitehead. The document draws attention to a number of areas highlighted in the White Paper and backs the call for radical educational reform to raise school standards for disadvantaged children. It covers the following areas;

  • The expansion and contraction of schools
  • Developing the local authority role
  • A new approach to admissions policy
  • The governance of schools

Estelle Morris, has already expressed concerns over allowing schools to determine their own admissions policy saying: "Show me a school which has changed its admissions policy to attract more children from poor backgrounds with uncooperative parents. When schools change their admissions policy it is to attract more able children or a better balanced intake."

She added: "What parents want is a choice between good schools with quality leadership and quality teaching."

Chris McCafferty MP has told the Hebden Bridge Web: "The main aims of the Education White Paper are absolutely right. We must build on what has already been done to continue to increase opportunities and standards in education for all children and young people. But there are fears that as it stands, some parts of the White Paper may actually make the divide between better-off and worse-off children in Calderdale schools worse."

"The document 'Shaping the Education Bill - Reaching for Consensus' seeks to promote debate and therefore identify ways in which the White Paper can be strengthened and taken forward into next year's Education Bill. I want every school to have the opportunity to be a good school, and it is for this reason that I have supported these sensible proposals."

Immediately following the launch, all Labour MPs were sent a copy of the document and invited to support it as a basis for discussion with the government in advance of the publication of the Education Bill, which is expected in February. A website has been created and Labour councillors and party members will be invited to send in their opinions on the proposals outlined in the document.

More info about the Alternative White Paper

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