Tories teach Labour a lesson in education
Date posted: 27-07-2012
IT WAS an “A plus” to the Conservative group on Wednesday when they delivered a number of first class (with honours) lessons to the ruling Labour group on education.
Portfolio holder, cllr Oliver Gerrish had proposed a motion which objected to change to the present GCSE system.
But over the next twenty minutes, the Tories managed to make a number of salient points that left may have left the Cambridge graduate being graded: “Could do better.”
The Tory argument was very much based on congratulating Thurrock schools on their improvements but then raising the concern that, as shadow portfolio holder, cllr James Halden said: “There is clearly a contradiction in that, exam results are going up but our position in international tables seem to be going down.”
Cllr Gerrish was concerned at returning to system where students from an early age were pigeon-holed.
He said: “We have a real system of flexibility now and I would be worried at returning to a system where you have no room to imprive from the age of 14.”
The crux of the Tories argument was made by Fobbing councillor Mark Coxshall. He said: “We want an education system that encourages social mobility.
“We want to see people from all schools on the front benches and not just Eton etc.”
The Conservatives continued their assault by making reference to the academy system.
Cllr Halden said: “We do not want to see a race to the bottom. Or a system where it is teaching to the exam. I was educated in Thurrock and am very proud of that.
“As shadow spokesperson for education, I will strive for the best educational system possible for our students.”
Cllr Gerrish, now under sustained attack was defended by cllr Barbara Rice who made reference to the many achievements of his administration, however, the Tories asserted that he was answering a question that was not on the exam paper!
Cllr Lynn Worrall attacked the Tories. She said: “My son got to university (Brunel) because of the system we now have. he would have found it much harder under the old GCE/CSE system.”
It was the waspish but perceptive humour of Orsett councillor Mike Revell that finally secured the honours.
Cllr Revell said: “If cllr Gerrish was organising an event in the Olympics such as the hop,skip and jump. He would have the hop on one day, the skip, the next and after another days rest, the jump.”
But as a learned man such as cllr Revell knows, democracy is often viewed as the second best form of government.
The motion, supporting cllr Gerrish was passed.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Gerrish said “I’m delighted that the council has backed this motion. Unlike some in the Tory group, who appear to be more concerned with making childish personal attacks than the future of Thurrock Children, we have sent a very clear message that we are not willing to accept any sort of two tier exam system.
“To say to a child at the age of 14 ‘no matter how hard you work, you will never be able to achieve more than a D, because we’re putting you in for a CSE not an O-level,’ would be just wrong.
“Hopefully by getting into this debate early, we can stop any progress down this route. We must keep the levels of aspiration and attainment improving in Thurrock.”