Government 'guarantees' · the Economist · The Telegraph

Government guarantees – the new “cones hot-line”!

The government’s latest edict is beginning to make it sound like a Private Eye parody of itself. Its latest decree is to ‘guarantee’ children a legal right to a good education. According to last week’s Telegraph, John Dunford, of the Association of School and College Leaders, ‘warned that the proposed laws risked creating one of the most “centrally prescriptive” education systems in the world – stifling innovation.’
After wasting £2 billion over the last ten years in failing to raise literacy standards, Ed Balls’ department has decided to issue a guarantee of something they haven’t a clue how to deliver: a good education for every child.
As David Laws, the Lib Dem spokesperson for children, put it:

“Only an arch centraliser like Ed Balls could believe that the only way to empower parents and pupils would be to create a vast bureaucratic structure of ‘rights’ without the means to deliver them.
Instead of giving real freedom and rights to pupils, parents and schools, Ed Balls’ proposals are likely to prove a license for litigation and will raise expectations without creating a mechanism to raise standards.”

The brouhaha seems now to have died down, though the Economist’s verdict this weekend is damning. It likens this government’s public service guarantees to the Major government’s “cones hot-line”, which, it says, ‘came to epitomise … the intellectual exhaustion and shrunken ambition of the Conservative’s last term in office’. As with “the citizen’s charter” initiative before it, if this proposed legislation ever reaches the statute book, it is unlikely to make the slightest difference: the government’s tactic, it says, is ‘an example of left-wing bureaucratic thinking: the delusion that the crooked timber of reality can be straightened by an optimistic statute’.