Monday, November 05, 2007

Nick Clegg's views on education

Last week I wrote about the two Lib Dem leadership candidates' views on education and mentioned Nick Clegg's advocacy of the "pupil premium" - a scheme that would fund pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds more generously.

Nick first put forward this idea in a pamphlet he wrote with Richard Grayson in 2002. It was called Learning From Europe: Lessons in Education, and if you search the backwaters of his campaign website you will find a link to a pdf version of it.

And very good it is too. It is not a rehearsal of Liberal Democrat pieties: it is realistic about the failings of our current system and open to new thinking, particularly - as the title suggests - from other European nations. It is a lot more interesting than anything Nick has come up with in his campaign so far.

And a lot more interesting than anything I have heard from a Lib Dem shadow education secretary in recent years.

Learning From Europe does not address the question of how you would sell the pupil premium to parents whose children would not benefit from it. Indeed, reading it has increased my doubts on this score. One of the schemes he examines is that operated in the Netherlands, and under it children from a "non-Dutch cultural background" receive more money.

I wonder how that would go down in leafy Hallam. Even more, I wonder how it would go down in poor white families elsewhere in Sheffield.

One other point: Nick's fellow author Richard Grayson is a product of Hemel Hempstead School in Hertfordshire - he is now the town's Lib Dem PPC. I attended the same school from 1971 to 1973, and talking to Richard I found that one teacher had taught both of us.

He had also taught Richard's father, which made me feel rather old.


Joe Otten said...

As someone who sends his children to school in leafy Sheffield Hallam, I don't think I would have anything to fear if the premium were extra money.

But the impression I get is that Denmark etc are willing to spend more on education (on "cohesion") because they are more cohesive. Not the other way round, as Duncan Brack and Chris Huhne seem to argue.

Thanks for digging this out, anyway.

GoodLiberal said...

Keep making an issue out of this, Johnathan. My thoughts on Education and the Leadership race here:

dreamingspire said...

Thanks for that revelation, Jonathan, because Nick Clegg's shadowing of the Home Office has puzzled me - it didn't seem to really be his forte. And HO Watch has too often been wide of the mark.