The coalition agreement: public health and schools

Welcome to the seventeenth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

The public health section is very brief and rather anomalous as a section on its own, though given the length of the NHS section splitting this area off makes some sense. There is little of surprise in what there is of this section – public health is important (gosh), it should be improved (shock) and the government will be ambitious (crikey). Innovation is also good (well I never).

The details do however give a flavour of the general policy approach taken by the coalition across a wide range of areas. There is the commitment to give local communities greater power (in this case over public health budgets). There is a desire to use (financial) incentives to improve public services (in this case incentivising GPs to tackle public health problems). There is a niche commitment that reflects a welcome understanding of an often ignored topic (in this case support for talking therapies). And there is a thorny issue which it is promised will be investigated (in this case improving access to healthcare from people from the most disadvantaged areas).

Moving on to schools, the big topic – and the one many Liberal Democrats are uncomfortable with – is the proposal for ‘free schools’. Balanced against that is the clear commitment to the pupil premium policy long trumpeted by Nick Clegg.

There is an emphasis on improving the teacher profession and matching pay more to performance. As ever, regulation will be cut, vocational training will see its quality raised, efforts will be made to attract more teachers, there will be more performance information about educational provides (including past exam papers), more flexibility in the exam system and a reform of league tables “so that schools are able to focus on, and demonstrate, the progress of children of all abilities”.

In a rather unnoticed parallel to the proposal to give anonymity to rape suspects, here there is promise to “give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils and take other measures to protect against false accusations”. In both areas the argument is that false accusations can cause such harm, even if followed by an exoneration, that special measures should be taken. However, whilst this has generated much debate in the case of rape, the schooling provision has pretty much passed without comment. Of course, there’s no magic reason to assume that if a policy suits in one circumstance it suits in the other too, but it’s striking that arguments which could apply in both have largely been left unsaid in the educational case – e.g. “But by giving anonymity you’re slurring the accusers by assuming they’re often lying”.

Action is also promised to help schools tackle homophobic bullying (an issue the Liberal Democrats, and in particular Sarah Teather, have been very vocal on) and to “prevent the unnecessary closure of special schools, and remove the bias towards inclusion”.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.

One Comment

  • The public health section does hold many opportunities but also the possibility that they will be wasted. Incentivising GP to do some public health work sounds good, although many will already ask about diet, smoking or alcohol consumption and the extra payments will encourage the others.
    However, the reason GPs are not best for dealing with public health issues is that they only see people who have made the effort to make an appointment. If those people are smoking, chip munching drinkers they probably know it’s not that good for them.
    Elsewhere the document covers NHS PCTs and local authorities working togther, with GPs, on public health. This is far more likely to address the population level work that could make the difference – not least by reaching those not already planning to see their GP.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • George Thomas
    "I wonder how many voters in any of the recent by-elections have quoted attacks on devolution and breaking down of relationship between different nations within...
  • John Roffey
    Since this article is about plain speaking - I came across this 'most liked' post in the comments section of an article by Nigel Farage in the Telegraph: "I ...
  • Hireton
    Mandate The Scottish parties which support a referendum gained seats at the 2021 Scottish General Election and the UK parties which oppose it lost seats. Th...
  • John Roffey
    I thought this short video from the Dalai Lama provided much needed hope on Climate Change:
  • Brad Barrows
    @ John Barrett Yes 60% of Scottish exports go to England under the current arrangement of Scotland in the UK but not in the EU. Most Irish exports used to be w...