08/12/2011 10:19 GMT | Updated 07/02/2012 05:12 GMT

The Importance of Trust in our Education System

I was deeply troubled at reports in today's press of examiners tipping off teachers. Parents will be incredibly worried and it is right that the government has initiated an inquiry to be led by Ofqual, the exam regulator. We should aspire to have the best education system in the world, one that prides itself on excellence and rigour for all our young people.

Trust in our education system is essential for pupils, teachers, parents and for business and industry. I will carefully study the outcome of the inquiry. The Education Select Committee is examining options for the introduction of a single exam body, which I too will consider on its merits.

However, on the broader point of trust and confidence in the education system, I am increasingly concerned that the government is itself undermining trust and confidence by its mishandling of decisions and by talking down the hard work of children and young people.

Earlier this week, a report by the independent and highly respected Institute of Education undermined the government's claims that English schools are failing to compete with international comparators. The IoE reported flaws in the government's analysis saying that credible assessments of our performance internationally could not be made, as existing evidence is too conflicting. It concluded that there is no hard evidence that England has slid down international performance tables.

Instead of talking down the performance of children and young people, the Education Secretary should spend more time addressing the challenges to improving education for all children.

Michael Gove is obsessed with a number of pet projects affecting a very small proportion of children in England. At the same time, this Tory-led Government is failing to address the issues of coasting schools, the status and quality of teaching in our schools and the importance of improving attainment in numeracy and literacy. It is not good enough to offer an education system that focuses on the few, not the many.

It is not good enough either to offer a system that disproportionately delivers 'satisfactory' levels of education to those from deprived backgrounds, whilst excellence is the preserve of the few.

These issues go to the heart of trust and confidence in the school system. By failing to focus on these issues, we are seeing a government that is out-of-touch with the concerns of parents and the needs of all children.

For parents and industry to have trust and confidence in the education system, the government must listen to their concerns and focus on the issues that matter.