Hinds attacks Labour over refusal to answer school policy questions

The education secretary has attacked Labour for “refusing to tell parents” about its schools policies, after his questions about the party’s proposals went unanswered.

Damian Hinds said parents were “deeply concerned” over Labour’s proposals that he claimed would “turn back the clock” on education reform. Labour wants to end the academies and free schools programme, hand powers to councils to open new schools and take back academies from failing trusts, and ban related-party transactions with commercial firms.

The attack also follows criticism of a lack of detail surrounding Labour’s plan for a “National Education Service”.

But Labour said it was “telling” that the education secretary was more concerned with opposition policies than his own.

The shadow education secretary would be more than happy to swap places

Hinds wrote to Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, earlier this month to demand answers about sweeping changes to the school system announced at the Labour Party conference.

The announcements, which also included a pledge to eventually bring all schools under a new local regulatory framework, have been denounced by Conservative MPs, with some even claiming that Labour wants to close down existing academies. In a speech earlier this month, Hinds defended academies and free schools and demanded “honest answers” from his opposite number.

However, Rayner has not responded to Hinds’s 10 questions about Labour schools policy.

“It’s disappointing that key questions around Labour’s education policy remain unanswered,” Hinds said today.

“In the last fortnight I have spoken to teachers and parents who are deeply concerned about Labour’s proposals, and the impact they might have on the education of their children. Having seen improvements in school standards since 2010, they worry Labour want to turn back the clock.”

But a Labour source told Schools Week: “It is rather telling that the education secretary seems more concerned with what the shadow education secretary is doing than he is with addressing the impact of Tory cuts to our schools.

“The shadow education secretary would be more than happy to swap places”.

Hinds also accused Labour of “refusing to tell parents what will be in their new ‘common rulebook’ which they plan to impose on all schools”, and remaining “silent [on] the fate of schools loved by parents”.

“With Jeremy Corbyn claiming Labour are ready for government, the confusion over what they would do with schools shows this couldn’t be further from the truth,” he added. “This is the sort of chaos that parents can expect if Labour get in and put ideology before children’s education.”