Exam hysteria risks costing Britain billions

Published in The Huffington Post on Thursday, 16th August, 2012.

The reaction to the release of exam results has become all too predictable. The results are announced, records are broken and then a chorus of negative comments dominates the headlines.

The number of students receiving the highest grade may have slightly dipped, but instead of celebrating the success of a generation that is often unfairly demonised, we insist on ignoring the hard work carried out by both students and their teachers. As a result, the response to Thursday’s A Level results was about as surprising as the clenching sensation you get by listening to Michael Gove speak for more than 14 seconds.

It goes without saying that this is a dangerous ritual. Not only does it undermine the achievements and confidence of hard working students, it also risks damaging one of Britain’s key exports.

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Ed Miliband needs to address Labour’s talent deficit and add steel to the Shadow Cabinet

What's ahead for Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet?
What's ahead for Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet?

Since the last General Election many of the heavy weights that dominated the New Labour political landscape have left the frontline of British politics. David Miliband, Alistair Darling, Alan Johnson, Jack Straw and of course Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown all stood down from Ministerial positions. This exodus followed the departure of people like John Prescott and John Reid who stood down when Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister in 2007. This provided a welcome opportunity for new blood to come through – but it also intensified a talent deficit that is apparent right across Westminster as Labour lost a great deal of its front bench talent and institutional memory. The sheer dominance of Blair and Brown over the last twenty years has stifled the development of top class politicians. As a result, Ed Miliband’s Cabinet over the last twelve months has had a mixed record and has been relatively lacklustre in holding the Conservative government to account.

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