Reshuffle casts doubts on school reform

The decision to move Lord Adonis from his education brief over to transport had prompted concerns about how the direction of school reform.

The Tories are seizing on the move as evidence Labour is backing away from its commitment to reform, while the Liberal Democrats say it highlights the power struggle going on in government.

“Everyone who believes in the integrity of the academies programme and the reform agenda in education will be disturbed to hear that Ed Balls has kicked Andrew Adonis out of the education department,” said shadow children’s secretary Michael Gove.

Liberal Democrat children’s spokesman David Laws said his Labour counterpart, Ed Balls, had forced Lord Adonis out to consolidate his own position.

“Gordon Brown’s decision to move Lord Adonis from his key schools post is a disgrace,” he said.
“It looks at if Ed Balls has succeeded in forcing out a minister who he saw as a threat to both his primacy and his statist instincts.

“Brown and Balls have used the distraction of the Mandelson come-back to strangle one of the last elements of reform of public services.”

But Lord Adonis claims to be happy with the move, and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to city academies – privately funded schools in deprived areas.

“Over the last year, Ed and I have accelerated and strengthened our academies programme, which will now see more than 300 open by 2010,” he said.

“I am confident the country will want to stick with Labour investment and reform, and not uncosted and unplanned Tory proposals for 5,000 new ‘free’ schools.”