First it was the Sats fiasco. Then results for 14-year-olds revealed that more than 30 per cent of boys were three years behind in reading. Finally, last week’s A-level data exposed a north/south divide in achievement that shattered Labour’s claims that huge investment was changing the fortunes of children in the poorest communities.
And with GCSE results out this week, which are expected to show a similar disparity, the exam season is making life distinctly uncomfortable for the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
But while Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, and Jim Knight, the schools minister, scramble round trying to distance themselves from the mess, one minister has gone about his business seemingly untouched by the fallout.
Lord Adonis, the architect behind city academies, has – at least for the moment – the plum education job. Late last month, at the height of the general condemnation over the Sats debacle, he emerged heckle-free from a speech he gave at a teachers’ conference. While national newspapers slam the mind-boggling inefficiency of Sats administration, the culpability of the department, and A-level grade inflation, local papers carry positive pieces about schools bidding to become academies.