July 12, 2004
Gordon Brown versus education

I recommend a read of this article by Peter Oborne, about Oliver Letwin's analysis of the Government in general, and of Gordon Brown's manic meddlesomeness in particular. Here is the particularly educational bit:

Letwin's arguments are partly set out in his speech on 'Gordon Brown’s Big Government' published on Tuesday. He demonstrates, with felicitous use of examples drawn mainly from government reports, how Gordon Brown’s obsession with central control has doomed New Labour's well-intentioned attempts to reform public services. The Chancellor’s insistence on micro-managing every area of public life through Whitehall-imposed targets, endless bothersome initiatives, grants-in-aid, public service agreements, etc., is squeezing the life out of our hospitals and schools.

Less and less of the investment intended for the national public services actually reaches its destination. Instead it is captured halfway by the bureaucrats and regulators setting and monitoring the targets, interpreting the data and managing the schemes. Letwin demonstrates, for example, that of 88,000 new posts created in education by New Labour, just 14,000 are teachers and teachers' assistants. Meanwhile the task of the teachers themselves is made far more wearisome and difficult by the New Labour army of bureaucrats. Letwin claims that the new regulations just issued by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority mean that a teacher in charge of 30 five-year-olds 'is expected to write a report on their pupils' aptitudes and achievements which exceeds the length of Paradise Lost'.

Which of course pulls things in the opposite direction of all this, to say nothing of making the Conservatives sound a whole lot smarter than I did in that posting.

Gratuitous photos of Oliver Letwin and Gordon Brown:

Letwin.jpg    GordonBrown.jpg

And see also this piece about the burdens imposed by Mr Brown. And by his predecessors, because it didn't start with him.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 04:08 PM
Category: Politics