School admissions rules need “beefed up” enforcement, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said today.
Mr Hunt made the comments to Schools Week at a Labour Party policy rally in Birmingham this afternoon, following revelations that the school attended by the children of the Prime Minister and Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove appeared to have broken the school admissions code.
“The government has undermined the role of the adjudicator and the ombudsman,” he said.
“We need to go back to having, as we did under the last government, some greater clarity and rigour around the role of the adjudicator – a beefed up role for the adjudicator, a beefed up role for the ombudsman too.”
He said the management of school admissions policies was “a growing issue in a high autonomy schools landscape”.
“It is also an issue in areas where we want school to be a vehicle for integration and collaboration in and amongst communities – schools should be furthering that.”
Mr Hunt declined to comment directly on the news, broken by Schools Week on Thursday, that Grey Coat Hospital School in London, where David Cameron and Michael Gove’s daughters are pupils, asked parents for a £120 ‘donation’ when accepting a place at the school.
However, he said: “I think there are clear guidelines on these elements.
“Schools have to be open and clear about their admissions guidelines and also be able to attract students from all backgrounds.”
Ultimately, he said, there were “never any simple solutions” for dealing with school admission policies.
But, he said: “A more effective and clear enforcement of existing rules is the first step.”
Mr Hunt also dismissed Government promises to raise the top rate of pay for teachers by 2 per cent as “totally unfunded”.
“Over the course of the next parliament, obviously the pay scale are a matter for the Treasury, but the Labour Party will be putting more money into schools than the Tories,” he said.
“The key thing is the difference between Conservative plans and Labour plans is we will have a real terms defence of the education budgeted will protect against inflation.”
At the packed event this this afternoon at the Birmingham ICC, Labour leader Ed Miliband officially launched the Party’s “pledges” for the election, including those on education.
As part of the pledge to “be a country where the next generation does better than the last”, Mr Miliband promised a Labour government would deliver “smaller class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds, an apprenticeship for every young person who gets the grades”.
He added:”At every stage of life we will improve chances for the young.”
Also among Labour’s five pledges were promises to improve the economy, living standards, and the NHS and to impose controls on immigration.