At a time of continuous change, former Education Secretary, Baroness Estelle Morris, will ask whether there is more continuity in the slogans of education policy than the main political parties would care to admit.

Delivering the University of Birmingham’s annual Priestly Lecture, at 17:30 on Thursday 27 March 2014, the Baroness will reflect on the rhetoric of Conservative and Labour Party pledges on education.

“The areas of education policy that politicians argue about are actually the areas where they most agree,” Baroness Morris will say. “If you look at the slogans they all sound the same, but there are real differences in education policy between the main political parties: the role of the market; whether schools really are autonomous; whether schools should be allowed to fail and at what point the state should intervene when children’s life chances are at risk.”

Baroness Morris started her career in education as a teacher in an inner city multiracial comprehensive school where she taught for 18 years. In 1992 she entered Parliament as a Labour MP for Birmingham and in 2001 became the Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

She followed this with two years as a Minister at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and left Parliament in 2005.

Since then Estelle has combined a career that includes senior posts both in education and the arts as well as being a member of the House of Lords.


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  • Sir Raymond Priestley was the Vice-Chancellor of The University of Birmingham from 1938 to 1952. He was a great supporter of the education of teachers and in 1959 it was decided to name this annual lecture after him.