Coffee House

Elizabeth Truss: look at Wales to see what Labour would do with education

3 April 2014

5:56 PM

3 April 2014

5:56 PM

Want to see what Labour would do with Michael Gove’s reforms? Just look at Wales, says Elizabeth Truss. At the Spectator’s schools conference this morning, the Childcare Minister used the demolished the Euston arch (pictured above) as a symbol of how Britain went wrong, and its HS2-stimulated rebirth of how this government is making amends.

Speaking after a robust lecture from Tristram Hunt, Truss explained how the changes to education in Wales have set a dangerous precedent of what a Labour government might do. She pointed out that after abandoning national testing, Wales has fallen to 40th in international league tables for maths:

‘In terms of accountability, this is one of the big issues with Wales and why they’ve fallen down so dramatically. When you remove accountability system, you can’t hold schools to account and you can’t see worse performance.’


There’s evidence to back up her claim. According to a study from Bristol University, pupils in England and Wales were performing at a similar level in 2001. But after dropping national league tables, school performance in Wales has been reduced by two GCSE grades per pupils per year on average. This chart below shows how the gap has widened between the two countries:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 13.19.29
In lieu of any new policies, Truss instead drew some dividing lines with Labour. In response to Hunt’s criticism of free schools in areas with excess places, she argued the new institutions have ‘forced every other school to raise its game’ and this is why it’s important to ‘open schools where there isn’t satisfactory education’. Expect this to be churned over and over as a key difference between Labour and the Tories at the next election.

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Show comments
  • Wessex Man

    The Welsh National Health Service is failing even faster and they spend even more than the English NHS trying to shut down whistle blowers!

  • Tony Quintus

    Healthcare in Wales is on a downward spiral too, and what is their solution? Go after ecigs!

  • derek

    When I was a child, brought up in a valleys mining village our biggest export to England, apart from coal, was school teachers. How times have changed.

    • Makroon

      Indeed. My best school friend from Pembrokeshire became a school teacher, his dad and mum were teachers, his brother and sister-in-law were teachers.
      And the Scots used to brag about their altogether superior education system – and then came Labour …..

      • Wessex Man

        Our history teacher a Welshman made history live and instilled in all a love of our country, the United Kingdom that lives on in us to this day.

  • Mark McIntyre

    NO2 HS2 – time to ‘Truss’ it up !

  • anyfool

    Do people from Wales care about the future for the children, do people in areas of England that keep electing Labour to run their councils care a jot about any of their futures.
    They cannot, all Labour areas are as far behind non Labour areas as when Labour came into being, can it be the education, after all did someone not you cannot fool all the people all the time, you can certainly fool the majority in these areas all of the time.

    • Rocksy

      What astounds and infuriates me about both Wales and Scotland is that they don’t see that they could be kingmakers. Instead they continue to return Labour meaning that neither the Conservatives nor Labour see any need or benefit to seeking their vote. (the SNP is an aberration)

      • telemachus

        Part of it is the domination of the levers of power in the UK as Whole by a London elite
        They perceive that elite to be hand in glove with the Tories whoever has the keys to No 10

    • Shazza

      Because they all believe it was Margaret Thatcher’s fault.

  • Kitty MLB

    Euston Arch was a spendid building until the soulless
    seventies arrived and built utter rubbish.
    Welsh Labour, the ruin of Education, NHS and everything
    Else an example of what to follow ever again.

    • Alexsandr

      they could have erected the arch in front of the new euston. to not have done so is a tragedy.

      and to think they wanted to knock st pancras down. Thanks to John Betjeman it was saved. and there is the lovely statue of him there.

      • HookesLaw

        There are a couple of arches in front of Euston aren’t there? One of them houses a very decent pub.

        • Wessex Man

          typical toryboy down the pub all day!

      • realfish

        They’ve located most of the stones of the arch in the Prescott Channel of the River Lea.

        Rather ironic given that it was John Prescott who killed off the proposed North of London Eurostar service that would have given the regions of the Midlands and North West direct to the Channel Tunnel and some of the prosperity that would have gone with it. Access, btw, that would not required a mile of additional running track.

        Never mind, the arch is going to be rebuilt at Euston and will be the centrepiece of a magnificent new high speed rail terminal for Britain.

        • Alexsandr

          no. they wont build HS2. there is not growth on WCML to justify it Its the wrong project in the wrong place.
          commuting is where the growth is -not just London but other cities too. but there is no vanity in extending windsor lines platforms and electrifying to Rochdale.

    • El_Sid

      I think the above photo does a good job of showing how ugly it was. Out of keeping with the area, and just not very British – good riddance I say.

      Of course the big trick that was missed, would have been to build “new Euston” next to St Pancras where the British Library is now, and built the BL where Euston now stands. That way the major trains north could terminate in one place, and the tumbleweeds could indulge their classical fantasies at Euston with a new BL.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        I think it looks stately and magnificent. Takes all sorts.

      • Jabez Foodbotham

        It certainly looks squat, solid, and stolid. More downward bearing than uplifting.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Welsh Labour. Nothing more need be said.

    • Andy

      Indeed so. Where ever the Fascist hold sway ruin follows.

    • komment

      Before the Welsh Assembly is given more powers it should properly administer the ones it already has. Mediocricy is a life style in all public service in Waes.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        Mediocricy is a lifestyle. Four words that could be applied to so many of our institutions. An excellent phrase, komment, I will steal it and use it often!

        • komment

          You are more than welcome, I need all the help to fight against mediocricy.

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            More power to you. I’ll help! The school in which I teach is a good antidote to mediocrity. Very proud of it.

            • komment

              Od luck.Your pupils are the fortunate few, your school obviously believes the purpose of schools and all who serve in them, regardless of rank or job description, is to educate children.

    • telemachus

      I am sure the authorities will examine that post

      • Colonel Mustard

        Describe themselves as ‘Welsh Labour’, hold 60 seats in the Welsh Assembly and therefore the de facto government empowered to pass bills for Acts of the Assembly in 20 “Subjects” outlined in schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 which includes Education and Training.

        • Mynydd

          In the Welsh Assembly, Welsh Labour have 30 seats, other parties, including Welsh Conservatives have 30 seats. This means Welsh Labour does not have an overall majority.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Never said they had a “majority”. They are however the de factor government.

    • Mynydd

      What about saying; tuition fees for Welsh students are capped at £3,000 even when they study at an English University.

      • Colonel Mustard

        You can say it if you want. Write your own comments and stop stalking those of others.