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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 July 2007, 02:46 GMT 03:46 UK
Takeover idea for failing schools
A classroom of pupils
The group's recommendations are not binding on the party
State schools in England judged by Ofsted to be "failing" should be taken over and run by charities and parents, a Tory policy group is suggesting.

These "pioneer schools" would then be free from local authority control and could set their own staff pay levels.

The idea is one of 32 put forward by the Social Justice Policy Group, but they are not binding on the Tory Party.

Another is that pupils in disadvantaged schools should each get 500 for extra academic, musical or sport tuition.

The credits would be given in return for parents playing an active role.

The policy group's sights are on schools judged to be failing or given notice to improve by education standards watchdog Ofsted.

Rather like the government's existing academies, the pioneer schools would be state funded and focus on raising attainment among the poorest and most disadvantaged children in the country.

The policy group, led by former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, says the pioneer schools would be set up as charities and get around 5,500 per pupil, per year.

Extra money could be raised through sponsorship by organisations dedicated to tackling disadvantage.

Home-school charters

The policy group also gives backing to the existing 47 academies - which the government wants to increase to 400.

But the group says the procedure for setting them up is too slow and bureaucratic and the buildings cost too much.

It says the existing system is fuelling intergenerational poverty.

"Wealthier parents are either bussing their children to good schools or moving to live in the catchment area of good schools because of the shortcomings of the existing system.

"Alternatively, they are buying places at private schools. The overall effect is to entrench classroom failure and poverty."

To reflect the importance of parental involvement in education, under the policy group's plans there would be compulsory home-school charters and home-school "support champions" in disadvantaged primary schools.

Parents should be given their own "lessons" in getting the best for their child from the education system, it believes.

Tory leader David Cameron tasked the group with developing new social justice policy ideas as part of efforts to repair what he calls Britain's "broken" society, but he is not obliged to accept their ideas.

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