07 Jan 2015
I'm not sure whether to be impressed by the quality of modern photography, the eagle eye of the pictures editor or the stupidity of politicians, when I see that William Hague has inadvertently revealed briefing papers showing that the Tories will not protect the schools budget should they win the May election.
It confirms our observation last month that this was to be the case when Morgan could promise no more than to "make the case" for protecting education funding.
Things are already tough for schools - my own faces a deficit for the first time in many years - our head is a genius at finding cash, but so many funding routes have been withdrawn that schools around the country are in dire straits already.
The briefing document recommends that MPs respond to questions about education cuts thus: "In this Parliament, we've shown that we can protect the front line by making the Education budget more efficient and effective. We can only have strong schools by staying on the road to a stronger economy".
What "front line" is being protected is not made clear, but presumably it means that, on the whole, schools are still opening their doors and children still have a teacher in front of them, by and large.
But it's the second sentence that is the bigger worry, since it completely misunderstands the purpose of education - the Tories see the tail as wagging the dog: strong education supports a strong economy, as the OECD points out,"more than half of the GDP growth in OECD countries over the past decade is related to labour income growth among tertiary educated individuals"*.
The Blair government splashed money around a lot, perhaps too much in some areas (we say this having been on the receiving end), but at least it understood this relationship, massively increasing tertiary education and empowering schools to support students in staying on. Cuts at school level will result in a decline in HE numbers and further shrinkage of the economy, which of course will lead to cuts elsewhere. It's not a popular opinion, but it could - and should - be argued that education is more important than health, on this basis.
However, we note on the same (Daily Telegraph) page revealing Hague's ineptitude, the following poll results:
* OECD (2012), “How does education affect the economy?”, in Education at a Glance 2012: Highlights, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag_highlights-2012-15-en
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