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Finding coalition common ground

If party leaders had to take regular exams, both David Cameron and Nick Clegg might struggle to get anywhere near top marks from their parties at the moment. Both hope to use the forthcoming party conference season to remedy that - using the occasions to appeal to their MPs and activists and demonstrate how they individually are fighting for their parties' priorities. But they also want to point out where the coalition CAN work effectively to produce mutually acceptable policies. Take tomorrow's expected announcement on a new exam system in England to replace GCSEs for example. Education Secretary Michael Gove wants tougher exams as he believes pupils in England have been slipping behind high-achieving nations such as Finland and Singapore. But after pressure from Mr Clegg he has dropped plans for a two-tier system with more academically-able students taking an 'O' level-type exam and the rest taking an easier test. He's also abandoned his initial idea of starting the new system in 2014. The Guardian's Nick Watt talked to me earlier and explained what we can expect this week.

This interview was broadcast on Sunday 16th September on BBC Radio 4's The Westminster Hour.

  • 16 Sep 2012