Bonus points: which claims are being probed by UK statistics watchdog
Which of the following were used by Damian Hinds, the education secretary, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference? There are no prizes - but award yourself one point for a correct answer. Award yourself an extra bonus point if you can spot the ones which are being investigated by the UK Statistics Watchdog (UKSA). The answers are at the bottom.
1 There are 1.9 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools
2 Post-2010 reforms are responsible for England’s top ten position in primary reading
3 We are strong investors in education when compared with the G7
4 Free schools have brought diversity and innovation
5 Labour will take all publicly funded schools back into Council control
6 Labour cut 100,000 places in our school system before 2010
7 We will have provided one million more places by 2020
Answer: all of them
Claim one: it's been repeated so often it’s become laughable. UKSA is investigating.
Claim two: there’s no evidence that post-2010 reforms were responsible for English ten-year-olds climbing from joint 10th to 8th in the PIRLS reading test. UKSA is investigating this claim again after having already criticised the DfE before for not giving a complete picture about PIRLS performance.
Claim three: Last week the DfE trumpeted how the UK was third in global rankings for education spending. But the BBC found the claim was disingenuous. Hinds obviously decided to drop the global claim to one comparing just seven countries – so much easier to come top. UKSA is investigating.
Claim four: Free schools tend to offer a traditional type of education. As a group, free schools are no more innovative than other schools. As for diversity, the introduction of free schools has increased the number of faith schools risking more segregation.
Claim five: The shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said , '... we will use our time in government to bring all publicly funded schools back into the mainstream public sector, with a common rulebook and under local democratic control.' This may, or may, not be achievable given the huge cost involved. But allowing individual academies to return to local authority stewardship might be appreciated by those schools in multi-academy trusts who hanker for the autonomy they had when LA maintained.
Claim six: 100,000 is half the 200,000 previously claimed by former education secretary Michael Gove – an admission, perhaps, that Gove was exaggerating. However, it’s true school places were cut during Labour years. This was because there were surplus places which cost public money to keep. Nevertheless, Labour sent money to ‘hotspots’ where extra school places were needed.
Claim seven: The New Schools Network says free schools will have delivered 400+ new places when the schools are full. I don’t think these figures include the 53 free schools and one UTC which were expected to open in September. These would provide another 40,000 places making a total of 440,000. Only 560,000 places to go if ‘we’ are to reach the target of one million more places by the end of the decade.
The full text of Hinds’ speech is here.
CORRECTION 12.21. I originally wrote that a future Labour Government ‘will allow academies to return to local authority control'. That was correct but I missed out what came next about a future Labour government eventually bringing all state schools back under local control. This has been put right.
CORRECTION 6 October 2018 08.26: The headline has been changed. I originally wrote 'which clams popped up in education speech'. It should, of course, have been 'claims'. The typo was not meant to draw attention to the somewhat fishy nature of Hinds's statements.
*OECD charts for public and private spending can be downloaded here