Tag Archives: david laws

Gove and Laws scrap it out on front pages over sacking of Ofsted head. Here’s what the row is all about.

Today’s newspaper front pages are full of the scrap taking place at the heart of the Department for Education between Conservative secretary of state Michael Gove and Lib Dem schools minister David Laws:

gove laws - papers

  • Ofsted row: Lib Dems furious at Conservative plan to ‘politicise’ classrooms (Independent on Sunday)
  • Lib Dems savage Gove over sacked schools boss (The Sunday Times, £)
  • Angry Lib Dems accuse Michael Gove of bid to politicise education (Observer)
  • Why is there a row?

    On Friday night, The Independent broke the news that Baroness (Sally) Morgan, the Labour

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 28 Comments

    Want to see a photo of a Young David Laws?

    Young David Laws – no, not a new telly detective, but a picture of Lib Dem schools minister David Laws aged about 19. Hint: he’s the chap on the left… a phrase not normally associated with David.

    (Hat-tip to Jezz Palmer for spotting.)

    young david laws

    Anyone got other photos of Lib Dem MPs before they were famous?

    Posted in News | Also tagged | 17 Comments

    The Independent View: Could Ireland’s emerging healthcare reforms test David Laws’ NHIS vision?

    Nearly a decade ago now, David Laws MP raised the idea of evolving the NHS into a continental-style universal ‘National Health Insurance Scheme’ (NHIS), where healthcare would be progressively funded from dedicated income contributions, individuals could choose insurers and everyone would be entitled to a comprehensive package of set treatments within a decentralised but heavily regulated system. It was a bold and interesting proposal, which for better or worse helped define the 2004 Orange Book in eyes of many, though it has perhaps also been misunderstood and straw-manned to a degree.

    However, besides substantive criticisms and the understandable sensitivities that talk …

    Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

    David Laws’ “Manifestival” now up on You Tube

    David Laws and PinguLast night, David Laws spent an hour answering members’ questions on the development of the Liberal Democrat manifesto. He took questions on a huge range of issues ranging from the economy to civil liberties to justice, fracking and schools. It’s quite remarkable that this is being done so openly and publicly.

    Some of us had trouble accessing the event. If it hadn’t been for Stace Williams, I wouldn’t have managed it at all. As it as, I have half an hour to catch up on. And I can, too. Because it’s up on You Tube.

    It’s 53 minutes long, so best to be enjoyed over a cup of tea.

    I make no apology, by the way, for the gratuitous use of the photograph of David and Pingu. I don’t think Paddy Ashdown has yet forgiven you readers for not voting it the best photo in the Liberal Democrat Voice awards. I see no reason why we shouldn’t use it as much as we possibly can.

    Anyway, enjoy the Q & A. You will note that the Divine Ms Duffett looks as if she has been at that Fountain of Eternal Youth again. She is very good at chairing these webinars, making them informal and informative.

    I should also emphasise that David said that he ideally needs ideas for the manifesto within the next six months s0 get them to him. Go and Join the Debate.

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

    Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: Two big issues – free schools and energy bills

    It would have been very surprising if Nick’s weekly letter hadn’t been on the subjects which have dominated the headlines this week – free schools and energy bills. Although, to be honest, I think it’s the energy bills that most voters are most concerned about and possibly merited a larger proportion of the Letter than they get. Nick makes the case for retaining the green charges which pay for the warm homes discount and home insulation programmes. Ed Davey wrote more about what he’s doing to keep down energy bills on this site last week. The thing is, it’s

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

    David Laws writes… Nick Clegg and I have always been clear that Free Schools must also be fair schools

    On Thursday this week, Nick Clegg will set out the Liberal Democrat approach to improving standards in schools.

    He will set out what parents and pupils should expect from schools. This is an issue we have worked on together for some time, and which was debated and agreed at our party’s conference this Spring.

    The Liberal Democrats are instinctive supporters of freedom, diversity and choice. We believe in giving schools more autonomy and teachers more freedom.

    That’s why we have supported extra powers to innovate for free schools and academies and have taken steps in government to extend autonomy for all schools. We …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 31 Comments

    Two questions journalists aren’t asking about Nick Clegg’s free schools speech

    Nick Clegg’s speech on free schools – setting out the policy approved by the Lib Dem conference last March – has ruffled feathers. Apparently he and David Cameron even had lunch yesterday to discuss this ‘bombshell’ announcement (which in fact won’t be made until a speech this Thursday).

    My view (as I set out here on Sunday) is that schools should have the freedom to appoint teachers who lack formal qualifications, though I’d expect these to be the exceptions not the rule in the vast majority of state-funded schools. But I don’t think it’s at all surprising that Nick …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 40 Comments

    Clegg on free schools and National Curriculum: no more, no less than party policy. And that’s for better and worse.

    No-one should be that surprised by Nick Clegg’s decision to distance the Lib Dems from Michael Gove’s schools policies — specifically that every teacher should be qualified and that every school should teach the national curriculum. After all, what Nick is due to set out in a speech this week is the policy that was voted for overwhelmingly by the party’s conference in March this year.

    Here’s what the adopted policy – Every Child Taught by an Excellent Teacher – says about teachers in all schools having qualifications:

    All classroom teachers, including in academies and free schools and Further Education

    Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 31 Comments

    Opinion: League tables – Lib Dems deliver real change

    schoolsignA quiet revolution happened last night that seems not to have made the front pages or even featured particularly prominently on Today. However, to me it represents one of the best examples of Lib Dems making a difference in education since being in government – and a genuine step in the right direction with regards to realising the potential in all students.

    There is to be a massive shake-up of GCSE league tables which is designed to stop the ‘perverse incentive’ for schools focusing on the students close to the C/D border to maximise the number of students achieving A*-C grades. Thanks to David Laws and his work in the department of Education, league tables will no longer be measure on just 5 subjects but 8 subjects, which include the humanities and vocational subjects or arts. Schools will be measured not just by how students do at the end of GCSE’s but by how much progress was made between GCSE’s and the end of Key Stage 2 (about age 11).

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

    Opinion: Performance related pay for teachers: does it drive up standards?

    Michael Gove’s most recent big idea to improve the teaching profession takes the form of performance related pay. Like many of Gove’s big ideas it has incensed teachers. But it’s also a populist move. One poll estimated that 61% of voters backed the idea. But will it improve teaching standards?

    The evidence for performance related pay leading to improving standards in education is inconclusive. Literature shows no causal relationship between performance related pay and standards and results vary enormously depending on the context. In India one study showed that “after controlling for student ability, parental background and the resources available …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 33 Comments

    “Go home” billboards – an open letter and blog round-up

    Since my post on Monday about the Home Office’s plan to send mobile billboards proclaiming that people who are in this country illegally should go home or face arrest, a number of bloggers and party members across various internet fora have expressed emotions ranging from horror to anger at the plan.

    Sarah Teather is, as far as I can tell, the only Liberal Democrat MP to have passed any comment at all, and just to remind you, she wasn’t chuffed:

    Vulnerable individuals who are fleeing persecution and violence are treated with disbelief and a complete lack of compassion in a rigid

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 29 Comments

    David Laws – “I thought the note was a joke”

    no money leftITV has revealed the contents of the infamous note left by Liam Byrne for David Laws. Unfortunately it is not possible to embed the video in this post, but you can watch it here.

    Three years ago David Laws reported that his predecessor had written ‘There’s no money left’, but it seems that wasn’t quite what the note said.



    Posted in News | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

    David Laws on the Liberal Democrat agenda for tackling low pay

    David LawsLast Wednesday David Laws gave a speech at the Resolution Foundation on the Liberal Democrat agenda for tackling low pay.

    He began by reflecting on the job market.

    Many of us vividly remember the recession of the early 1980s, which destroyed so many jobs. There are still communities in our country which have failed to recover from that economic heart-attack. In contrast, the recent recession and the unusually slow recovery from it have been characterised by much better than expected employment outcomes. Instead of losing millions of jobs, we have been

    Posted in News | Also tagged | 25 Comments

    Laws vetoes plan to turn teachers into part-time border agents

    Education Minister David LawsFrom yesterday’s Guardian:

    A proposal to require schools to check on the immigration status of their pupils has been shelved after the Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws decided the idea would be bureaucratic and difficult to implement.

    In a sign of the Lib Dems’ determination to assert themselves in the coalition, Laws told the education secretary Michael Gove the proposal was a “non-flyer”.

    According to Whitehall emails leaked to the Guardian in March, Laws asked officials earlier this year to carry out a “cost-benefit analysis” of carrying out checks

    Posted in News | 7 Comments

    Schools in well-off areas ‘are failing’ poorer pupils

    David LawsThe Pupil Premium has had an impact on the educational achievements of many children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Indeed, the gap in attainment between them and the rest of the pupil population is the narrowest it has been for many years.

    However, in an interview with the Independent, David Laws highlights the, perhaps surprising, differences between performance in deprived and in affluent areas of the country. It seems that disadvantaged children in well-off areas are not achieving as well as similar children in deprived areas.

    David Laws, the Schools minister, described the

    Posted in News | Also tagged | 48 Comments

    Eastleigh by-election: your essential round-up of the latest campaign news (13 Feb)

    Here’s a round-up of news from the past 24 hours in the Eastleigh by-election…

    Mike Thornton’s campaign in full swing

    mike thornton david chidgeyThe Lib Dems’ Mike Thornton — pictured here (by Jon Aylwin) with 1994 by-election victor David Chidgey — has been focusing on how the pupil premium, the party’s flagship education policy, has been helping Eastleigh schools:

    Lib Dems boost Pupil Premium (Southern Daily Echo)
    The policy introduced by the Liberal Democrats has invested £1.7m in Eastleigh schools, and is aimed at ensuring every child has a fair start in life.

    Just one of the reasons why volunteer help has been pouring in to help Mike retain the seats for the Lib Dems:

    Posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 12 Comments

    LibLink: David Laws – Incentive for UK schools to promote talent

    Writing in today’s Financial Times, Lib Dem schools minister David Laws has the following to say about the Government’s announcements on reforms to the systems of examination:

    We need all schools to teach all children well in all subjects. For that reason, we propose judging schools by the progress their pupils make in eight subjects. Two of those subjects will be English and maths; a further three will be any combination of sciences, history, geography and languages. The remaining three are open – they could be further sciences or languages, subjects such as art or music,

    Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 3 Comments

    Gove forced into GCSE U-turn ‘under Lib Dem pressure’

    The morning’s big news is that Conservative education secretary Michael Gove is set to announce a U-turn today on his plans to scrap the current GCSE exams and replace them with a new EBacc qualification in 2015. Here‘s how the Independent reports it:

    The Education Secretary bowed to overwhelming pressure for a rethink from Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, the exams regulator Ofqual and MPs from all parties. It is understood that he decided to act after being warned by civil servants that one key plank of his reforms – handing each of the core subjects over to just

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 27 Comments

    David Laws to chair 2015 Manifesto Working Group

    It’s now official: Lib Dem schools minister David Laws will chair the party’s Manifesto Working Group. Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames, who chairs the party’s Federal Policy Committee, has just emailed members with the following message:

    Last night at the party’s Federal Policy Committee we agreed Nick Clegg’s nomination of David Laws MP to Chair the Manifesto Working Group for the next General Election. Alongside David, we also appointed two Vice-Chairs – Sharon Bowles MEP and Duncan Brack – and nine further members of the group.

    The Manifesto Working Group reports to the Federal Policy Committee, which has responsibility for preparing the

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 42 Comments

    David Howarth: liberals should increase indirect taxes

    David HowarthMartin Tod recently drew my attention to a short publication from David Howarth published over the summer about levels of public spending: Spending and Growth – a response to David Laws.

    As the title suggests, it is primarily a response to someone else’s views on appropriate levels of public spending:

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

    Attacking child poverty – David Laws wants your views…

    Child poverty in the UK is way too high. It is at unacceptable levels and has been for too long. The government is united in taking child poverty seriously and we are determined – even in difficult times – to reduce child poverty and increase opportunities.

    Traditionally we have defined poverty simply by relative income. We know now that this is not sufficient. A child’s experience of poverty is about more than whether their family income this week is low.

    That is why we are consulting on a new measure of poverty. The new measure is not about abandoning the past. Nor is it about massaging

    Posted in News | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

    David Laws and Vicky Pryce on the crisis in Europe

    Monday evening at conference saw a discussion between David Laws, economist Vicky Pryce and Simon Tilford from the Centre for European Reform entitled “Europe: from crisis to growth”.

    This wasn’t an event that one went to if one needed cheering up: the overall message coming from all the speakers was a downbeat one, even if they all picked out some small shards of positivity.

    Simon Tilford began by giving some reasons why on the face of it the past month has been a rather good one in the ongoing saga of the Eurozone crisis: we had the announcement from Mario Draghi, head …

    Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

    Another day at conference, another education policy launched

    BlackboardTax, tax and a bit more about tax: that’s been the main theme of the Liberal Democrat conference, from the slogan on badges and the banner outside the building through to the content of speeches and the main policy focus of the media coverage.

    When it comes to new policy announcements, however, it is education that has had a strong showing.

    First there was the news on summer schools:

    Lib Dems announce further £100m for summer schools to help children catch-up
    Mr Laws said: “All too often pupils who have made big progress

    Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment

    Random conference observations from a (new) old grouch

    I used to lap up all the conference speeches with unalloyed joy and naive belief.

    But, returning to conference after a bit of a break, something has happened to me.

    I think I may have seen and heard a lot more these days.

    It takes a lot to please me.

    So far, here’s some of my random observations.

    Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

    David Laws’ speech to conference: no soaring rhetoric but a clear determination to deliver

    David Laws is no Tim Farron. It’s hard to imagine him rousing the passions of the party faithful as the party president does.

    But what he lacks in crowd-pleasing rhetoric he makes up for in two things: first, a clear passion for education and secondly a seemingly effortless grasp of his brief.

    There was little in the way of new announcements in his speech to conference, though he did confirm that the pupil premium would rise to £900 per pupil in 2013 and that by 2015 the Lib Dem pledge to dedicate a total of £2.5bn a year to the policy will …

    Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

    LibLink: David Laws – No more “nothing for nothing” politics

    Over at The Sun newspaper, the Lib Dems’ new schools minister David Laws has written an article arguing that the Coalition parties are keen to put the summer’s tensions behind them and to to-boot the Government in the weeks to come. Here’s an excerpt:

    Some people even started to speculate that the Coalition would end. Or that we would be in for years of drift and dither. But I believe that both leaders have looked over the edge of the Coalition cliff — and neither likes what he sees. A break-up of the Coalition would be an economic disaster. And the

    Posted in LibLink | Leave a comment

    Conference preview: Saturday and Sunday

    This year, the Liberal Democrat autumn conference has one day per theme, covering jobs, education, environment and tax.

    Saturday is education day, with David Laws giving a keynote speech. For many party members he is more respected than trusted; recognised for his skills yet leaving people uneasy over quite what a David Laws manifesto would look like or whether it was right to bring him back into government this year. Saturday is his big chance to win over members.

    If he chooses to take it, that is – as there …

    Posted in Conference | Also tagged , , , , and | 18 Comments

    David Laws: “An exam for all abilities”

    Here’s the text of the email from Lib Dem education minister David Laws to party members today setting out the Coalition’s proposed reforms of the GCSE exam system:

    The Coalition has today announced our plan to replace GCSEs with new, reformed qualifications.

    Our proposals will restore rigour to the exam system, allow us to compete on the international stage, and end years of grade inflation under Labour.

    When some Conservatives suggested that we could bring back the 1950s O-Level, Nick Clegg immediately made it clear that Liberal Democrats would not tolerate such a move. Liberal Democrats will never accept a return

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 44 Comments

    How much should we tax? How much should we spend? The great unanswered questions in British politics

    A few weeks ago I took David Laws to task for proposing the UK needs to reduce public spending to 35% of GDP: it currently stands at 43%.

    I stand by the three points I made then:
    1) Just because public spending is higher in the C.21st than in Gladstone’s day is not in itself a sufficient argument.
    2) Proposals for public spending cuts should be backed up by specific examples. (It’s a favourite trick of Conservative right-wingers in particular, for example, to preach spending restraint while also wanting to build new prisons and buy new weapons systems.)
    3) There is no evidence …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments

    Opinion: After the reshuffle: how can we still claim internationalism?

    The reshuffle: the talking point of the last few days. I’m sure we all feel a bit angry and flustered after the Tory side was announced – Hunt at health, Miller as equalities. It really could not have been much less liberal. Our side, though, may at first appear entirely less interesting, and far more acceptable. There were some great moves in the reshuffle, sure. Jo Swinson as an Undersecretary of State. David Laws is back. This reshuffle, though, has cut out something essential to the Liberal Democrats: our internationalism. Lib Dems gone from FCO. No Lib Dems in the MOD. One minister, Lynne Featherstone, in DFID. And Lynne’s briefing (at the time of writing) has still not been an announced. This reshuffle represents an almost complete retreat from international affairs.

    Internationalism is one of the things the Lib Dems pride ourselves on: our attitude to the European Union is really quite distinctive amongst mainstream politics, we work closely with our sister parties, and our opposition to the Iraq war was certainly amongst the most vocal. Foreign Affairs is not a fairly ‘non-partisan’ area, as I had it put to me. There are huge divergences in Liberal Democrat and Conservative policy here, and now we have absolutely no one fighting our corner, it seems. Even Lynne in DFID isn’t really going to have much of a say: when behind-closed-door discussion takes place on the European Union, the Eurozone crisis, our involvement in NATO, renewal of Trident, and our relationship with the US, particularly with the upcoming Presidential elections, and other big issues at the moment, DFID are hardly the most involved.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 20 Comments

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