Parents, teachers and opposition politicians have condemned Education Secretary Michael Gove's schools reforms as being 'out of touch with reality' and of 'undermining school standards'.
Labour's shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, said Mr Gove's ambitions to make state schools as good as the private sector by lengthening the school day to 10 hours, toughening up discipline and implementing more testing missed the point of how to raise standards.
Mr Hunt, said: "Improving school standards starts with a qualified teacher in every classroom. Until Michael Gove commits to this, he is ruling himself out of any serious debate about how we raise standards in our schools.
"Whether on discipline, delivering extra-curricular activities or on improving learning outcomes: it all hinges on the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Raising the quality of teaching - that is where the focus needs to be and that is what Labour is concerned with. The Tories have lost sight of this and are undermining school standards as a result."
Earlier today, Mr Gove made a keynote speech in which he vowed to break down the 'Berlin Wall' between state and private schools and to open up the opportunities available in the independent sector to more pupils than ever before.
Addressing the London Academy of Excellence, Mr Gove said: "My ambition for our education system is simple - when you visit a school in England standards are so high all round that you should not be able to tell whether it's in the state sector or a fee paying independent."
He said he would realise his dreams by introducing tougher tests, 10-hour school days, shorter holidays, more extra-curricular activities, and better discipline.
But his proposals have been fiercely condemned by teachers and mums and dads.
Christine Blower, leader of the National Union of Teachers, challenged the idea of state schools using the common entrance exam.
She said: "Why would we imagine that that is an appropriate examination? He's not discussed that with anybody, he's not discussed it with any of the exam boards, he's certainly not discussed it with the representatives of teachers."
And responding on Parentdish's Facebook page to Mr Gove's speech, parents rushed to condemn the Education Secretary as being out of touch with reality and accused him of treating children as 'things' not as human beings.
Jen Allford wrote: "I think he needs to get real and think about children as children, not 'things' that needed testing every damn year, and forced to stay in school for ridiculous amounts of time. He has NO idea about schools, children or teachers (or what parents want for their children) and needs to crawl back under his rock. He makes me more and more angry every time he speaks."
And Elizabeth James accused Mr Gove of meddling. She added: "If he doesn't stop with all his nonsense we won't have any schools, the teachers will have all left the profession. "I trust our teachers to do their best they can for our children, he just needs to back off, let them do their jobs and let our children be children."
Kirsty Phillipson-Lowe described the proposal as 'ridiculous', adding: "I wouldn't want my children at school for 9 - 10 hours a day! They'd be exhausted and there'd be no family time in the evenings."
Echoing this, Samantha Ceri-Jayne Fisher said: "I'm all for improving education standards, but is rigorous testing, longer days, and shorter holidays really the way to achieve that?! I think not. All he will achieve is exhausted pupils and teachers, and angry parents.
"What about more funding for schools, or a better curriculum, or more training for teachers? These are the approaches he should be looking at, instead of depriving families of yet more time together.
"Whatever happened to the importance of the family unit, or letting a child know they are loved? I feel that with longer hours, shorter holidays, fines for being late or absent, suspensions for foods in lunchboxes, and now the forced stipulation of 'clubs', our government is actually working very hard at taking away our rights as parents in order to parent our children for us.
"We are headed for a generation of mentally burnt out, emotionally inept people if all this comes into play."
Caroline Saunders said: "BOOOOOOOO! This man needs to realise that we don't all need to be Eton stereotyped! And if we are all at the academic level he thinks that everyone can achieve then he needs to get real.
"What is the point in us all achieving a standard to go to university when there would not be sufficient places and the vast majority cannot afford to go anyway. I think he should sit in a few PTA meetings and get some real feedback!"
Mr Gove had one supporter, in Amy Crawford-Small - but only in a tokenistic way.
She said: "Having been to a public school myself, the extra curriculum activities are, to my mind, a very good idea but honestly, the rest of his proposals are just daft."
And Rachel Jenkins blasted: "These proposals will break family bonds, turn our kids into zombies / battery hens!!!!!! The reason private school is better is because each child is 'nurtured' as individuals, the classes are a lot smaller, they go on lots of trips, play sport every day.
"If I could afford it my boys would go. State school will never be able to offer these things!!! WE DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE CHIINA/JAPAN, THANK YOU!!!!"
And one mum was so dispirited by the education system that she now home-schools her children.
Becki Blackburn said: "Gove and his fellow morons were the final deciding factor in that decision. They chop and change policies so often that far too many good teachers are leaving to go elsewhere, the days are getting longer, too many tests planned, etc.
"I'd rather my children continued to enjoy learning and they'll not do that if they enter the school system."
Parentdish mums and dads aren't the only people Michael Gove has p****d off this week – and it's only Monday!
As well as annoying teachers and unions with his reform plans, he has also described the educational establishment as 'the Blob' and has caused an almighty row by sacking Baroness Sally Morgan, the chair of Ofsted, the schools' inspectorate – a move condemned by commentators as politically motivated.
His decision prompted an angry response from David Laws, the Liberal Democrat education minister, who said he was 'absolutely furious at the blatant attempts by the Tories to politicise Ofsted'.
Downing Street hit back at the Lib Dems. A senior source said: "We know what they are doing, trying to differentiate and show relevance. We are just getting on with running the country."
What a mess, eh? And throughout it all, our children are just trying to work hard to create a bright future for themselves.
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