Michael Gove and Tristram Hunt lead School Report education focus

Gove: I'm a lieutenant like Horatio

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Education Secretary Michael Gove's concession that teachers deserved more pay was among the headlines generated by this year's round of School Report interviews with leading politicians in the sphere which most affects young people.

School Reporters interviewed Gove, schools minister David Laws and shadow education minister Tristram Hunt, putting the questions they wanted answered to some of the people with the power to change the education system in England.

Mr Hunt said a Labour government would focus on "the forgotten 50%" of young people who might not go to university but could be interested in apprenticeships or vocational work as much as academic, while he also reiterated his plans to make pupils continue to learn English and maths until 18.

The length of the school day was a hot topic for all three politicians, with Mr Hunt insisting Labour would have schools open from 8am-6pm every week day.

Shadow Education Minister Tristram Hunt

"You can do a lot in the school day which isn't just the lessons - whether its sport, drama or other activities, things learned outside the classroom are really important," said Mr Hunt, who stressed the importance of developing "confident" and "resilient" young people.

Mr Gove also reiterated his much publicised support of the idea of extending school opening hours.

"I love spending quality time with my own children but I think schools can, between eight and six, provide an additional range of activities," he said. "Lots of parents work long days and it's helpful to know that their children are being well cared for by professionals and there's lots of activities like being members of orchestra, choir or debating society."

Mr Laws added: "We're not telling schools what to do - it makes sense for individual schools to make decisions about this.

Meanwhile, Mr Laws said the shift of emphasis away from coursework was to make sure that pupils' achievements were their own.

"Coursework is a really good thing but we have to make sure that, if it's going to be included in exam results, that it's credible," he said.

"When I was at school there were subjects I liked and was good at and others I wasn't good at and I got my brother's help with the homework, with physics."

On changes to GCSEs, Laws added: "They have to be very carefully thought through because it is about the future of young people.

Minister of State for Schools David Laws

"We're reforming GCSEs to make sure they keep pace with the best qualifications in the world and set the hurdle of ambition at the right level but we're doing that over a period of years so schools and students are prepared for them."

Gove said there was a place for league tables, but that changes to the system were necessary.

"I think league tables help - they let us know which schools are doing particularly well, so we can learn from them, and which schools are underperforming," he said.

"But we are changing them because they weren't perfect. The new league tables mean that every student counts in a way that they didn't always before - in the past there was a lot of concentration on borderline C-D students and now it matters just as much if you move from a B to an A or an E to a D."

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