Tuesday 30 July 2013

A Million+ reasons to mistrust the BBC's education reporting?

Here's a little something I posted as a comment nearly three years ago at Biased BBC.

Craig says:
Catching up on this week’s editions of Newsnight. On Monday night (the day of Lord Browne’s report on tuition fees), Michael Crick reported on the strains in the coalition. He badgered a Lib Dem MP (Stephen Williams) over the issue, then featured as ‘talking heads’ Pam Tatlow ofMillion Plus, which he described as “one university think tank”, and a Labour MP called Adrian Bailey. Pam Tatlow was very critical, and also attacked bankers and the City. 
What Crick failed to tell his audience is that Pam Tatlow is also a Labour Party member who tried to become the Labour candidate for the safe Labour seat of Ashfield (beaten by Gloria de Piero).
Yet again a BBC ‘talking head’ who is presented as an independent voice who turns out to be no such thing.

Moving on from October 2010 to July 2013 and guest what? Yep, they're still at it. 

Here's Alan at Biased BBC today:
Today the BBC brings us the Million+ think tank, ‘a think tank that also represents newer universities‘ which is telling us that ‘England’s teacher training system ‘broken down’
The system of planning teacher training in England has broken down and risks a future shortage of teachers, a university think tank says.
In her evidence to the committee, Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Million+ – a think tank that also represents newer universities – said School Direct, , which is focused around on-the-job, school-based training, had been introduced “without any robust assessment of its impact on teacher supply”.
Pam Tatlow?   Ever heard that name before?  You might have…she was in the news not so long ago….as a short listed Labour party candidate.
You’d have thought that might just be a bit relevant when you have a person strongly criticising government policy and yet is Labour through and through.
Apparently the BBC doesn’t think that to be the case.

The journalist behind that BBC report is education correspondent Hannah Richardson - the one who prompted this comment from me (here at Is...?) just three weeks ago:
I wondered what the BBC's online education reporter Hannah Richardson would make of it, as she's long seemed to me to be particularly close to those who oppose Mr Gove's educational policies and is always the BBC education reporter most likely to post a biased piece on any subject.
As a further flavour of Hannah's reporting, perhaps a couple more comments from me at Biased BBC from 2010 might be of use:

Craig says:
The main education story on the BBC’s website is another attack on the Tory ‘free schools’ policy:
Free schools ‘could widen social divide’

The article by Hannah Richardson is almost entirely given over to the criticisms of the “leading academic” Dr Susanne Wiborg of the Institute of Education. Described as “an expert in comparative education”, she is quoted at great length. (20 paragraphs are given over to her attack, with just 4 paragraphs putting the government’s side.)

What Hannah Richardson neglects to point out is that left-wing Dr Wiborg is a outright advocate of comprehensive education:

Toby Young in the Telegraph has a different take on the same story:

Craig says:
This same reporter’s previous article College cuts ‘to hit class sizes’ follows a similar pattern, being based on criticism of government policy by a teaching union (the UCU), whose leader Sally Hunt’s views are quoted at much greater length that the government’s.
Before that there was University ‘denied to thousands’, where Hannah Richardson again based an article on criticisms by Sally Hunt of the UCU.
Then there’s this tear-jerker about devastated children, a councillor close to sobbing, bemused teachers (etc), let down by Michael Gove: Pupils ‘devastated’ by school rebuild let down
Before that there was Nobel winners’ protest halts science funding change, which turns out to be just another story based on a campaign by Sally Hunt and the UCU.
Then there was Schools buildings scheme scrapped, where Michael Gove is given plenty of space, but is followed by an endless stream of critics, including a ‘selection of your comments’ – ALL critical.
All these stories come from this month alone.

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