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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Secondary schools Morris's priority
Estelle Morris
Estelle Morris wants a "revolution in standards"
Improving secondary schools will be the priority for the incoming education secretary, Estelle Morris.

And she says that this will include using the private sector to raise standards in state schools.

Estelle Morris's agenda
Improve secondary schools
Increase specialist schools
Increased private sector involvement
10,000 more teachers
Increase vocational training
Widen access to higher education
Improving adult literacy
"What matters is what works. Where we think the private sector can deliver we won't hesitate to draw on its skills," says Estelle Morris.

Speaking at the Henry Compton Secondary School in Hammersmith, west London, Ms Morris said that secondary schools would have to undertake the reforms that had already driven up results in primary schools.

"Not enough progress is being made at ages 11 to14 - and in some cases pupils are falling back. This isn't acceptable. We owe it to parents, teachers, schools, and above all, pupils, to ensure that the pace of learning is maintained when children move from primary to secondary school."

Gifted pupils

The expansion in specialist schools will assist this "revolution in standards", said the education secretary.

"Every school will be encouraged to have a distinct character, mission and ethos" and there will be greater attention to the individual needs of pupils, including the most able.

This will include encouragement for children to take GCSEs a year early, which could also have advantages in an overcrowded exam timetable.

There will also be greater provision for vocational training in secondary schools, which she said would enable 200,000 young people to acquire technical and craft skills.

And she re-asserted the government's target that 50% of young people will be entering higher education by 2010.

But she also indicated that schools and local authorities would need to adopt a more flexible approach to training, which could take place at weekends or in the evening.

This would avoid the need to find supply teachers to replace staff being trained - but has prompted concerns about further pressures on teachers' time.

"This approach will add to the excessive workload which the government claims it wishes to reduce," said Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers.

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See also:

08 Jun 01 | Vote2001
Estelle Morris: classroom to cabinet
11 Jun 01 | Education
Education ministers announced
08 Jun 01 | Education
Labour's plans for schools
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