The Tory/Lib Dem Pact

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Ben Cohen
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This is a must read from the Independent for those curious to see what a pact between the Tories and Lib Dems will actually mean for regular people.

Here's a glimpse of what education in Britain under the slightly strange hybrid conservative/liberal government will look like:

Education: Schools given curriculum breaks

What they say

New
providers to be able to enter the state school system in response to
parental demand with schools to be given greater freedom over
curriculum. Higher education policies to be put off until Lord Browne's
review reports. Its proposals will be judged against the need to:
increase social mobility; take into account the impact on student debt;
ensure a properly funded university sector; improve the quality of
teaching; advance scholarship; and attract a higher proportion of
students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

If the
response of the Government to Lord Browne's report is one that Liberal
Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable
Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote.

What they mean

Michael
Gove, the Education Secretary, has the green light for his plans to
introduce Swedish-style independent "free" schools run by parent and
teachers' groups. However, the Liberal Democrats won safeguards over the
project. Originally, Mr Gove planned to allow the "free" schools
freedom from the national curriculum while introducing a traditional
curriculum for others. Now all schools will gain these freedoms. In
addition, they will all be held accountable by bodies like Ofsted, the
education standards watchdog.

On student fees,
both have agreed to await the outcome of a review on funding before
deciding whether to raise fees above their present ceiling of £3,240 a
year.

The Liberal Democrats, who pledged they
would scrap fees within six years, have been allowed to abstain in a
Commons vote if the inquiry makes recommendations they cannot accept.
However, university vice-chancellors claimed this would merely help the
Conservatives introduce higher fees.

The Liberal
Democrats' main election pledge – to introduce a "pupil premium" giving
schools more cash for taking on disadvantaged pupils – will go ahead.

Verdict score draw

Looking over the proposed hybrid policies, it doesn't actually look that bad from a progressive point of view. David Cameron has made a lot of concessions to the Lib Dems and they look to have their hand in virtually all branches of government. While the Tories will largely control foreign policy, it looks like the Lib Dems will get much of what they wanted at home - a concession made by Cameron because he knows that despite his 'victory' the British population are turning further to the Left than to the Right.

It's (very) early days, but so far there are some interesting ideas and clearly a lot of energy to kick start Britain after a grim few years under Labour.