For 12 years, with mounting anger and deepening despair, I have watched Labour undermine state education. The curriculum has been emptied of academic rigour, examinations have been dumbed down and the profession lobotomised. Now, I am wondering what, if anything, will change if and when Michael Gove replaces the egregious Ed Balls.
Be patient, my Conservative friends tell me. All will be well when the next election is won. Labour is imploding. It would be silly to announce policies that might frighten the electorate. They pat me on the head, smile reassuringly, and turn out the light.
Will all be well? So far we know that David Cameron and Gove have dismissed grammar schools as an elitist anachronism and have embraced the white elephant of Labour's academy programme. They intend to keep the National Curriculum and to retain Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) alongside, it seems, the other mechanisms of state educational control such as the Training and Development Agency and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, which have caused so much harm.
"There are those," Gove announced last year, "who say that university education, by definition, can only ever be enjoyed or appreciated by a minority." The expansion of higher education will, in other words, continue under the Conservatives. More and more young people will waste three years studying for a meaningless degree.
Skim the pages of Policy Green Paper No.1, Raising the Bar, Closing the Gap, and your eyes will alight on these sentences:
"Conservative education policy is driven by a moral imperative — the need to make the most of every individual talent. We believe in raising the bar for achievement in Britain, helping every child to acquire a more comprehensive array of skills and providing them with the knowledge to become authors of their own life stories...Our education reform plan is driven by a commitment to social justice — a society made more equal by dispersing opportunity both more widely and more fairly."