Tory conference special: which claims popped up in education speech?

Janet Downs's picture

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  

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


John Mountford's picture
Sat, 06/10/2018 - 12:17

More, Janet, more!!! I got them all right!! I was chuffed to score so well on a memory test considering my usually rather poor recall of statistics. At least it served to prove one thing, if you repeat claims often enough they eventually stick and can even masquerade as truth in our topsy-turvy democracy.  My problem is what to do with this information. I hesitate to refer to it as knowledge. Whatever I decide to call it, however, it has not helped me develop cognitively. In reality, it's just like the education our leaders are subjecting our kids to irrespective of the true outcomes..

Sadly, it won't matter what the UKSA concludes after investigating these claims. Ministers are exempt from restricting themselves to facts that stand up to independent scrutiny. I was brought up in the Rhondda Valleys of the post-war period and my first introduction to political rhetoric was the saying  that if they put a donkey up for Labour, it would get in. Well, we now truly have donkeys of the nodding type in power, aided and abetted by a dozy media. Our young people are greatly in need of a new political party, founded on the idea that they are not omnipotent but are committed to listening to other interested groups and weighing up what is in the best interests of the many rather than the vested interests of their powerful sponsors.


Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 06/10/2018 - 12:56

Hi John - the area where I live is the opposite of your Rhondda.  The local electorate would vote for the Devil himself if he had blue horns.  The only time in living memory that the seat was Labour was when the conservative Quentin Davies crossed the floor of the House and became Labour. He was made a Labour Lord in 2010.

Sadly, you're right about the Government's attitude towards UKSA.  It's ignored previous UKSA criticisms (eg Nick Gibb 'inadvertently'repeating the plummeting down PISA league tables long after UKSA had slated DfE use of PISA data).  


Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 06/10/2018 - 14:01

John - you want more?  You've got more.  

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.