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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
'Advanced schools' to help the rest
Estelle Morris
Ms Morris wants to take comprehensives further
The education secretary hopes to "yank up" standards in under-achieving comprehensive schools with the advent of 300 "advanced schools".

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, said the top specialist schools would be selected for advanced status in the drive to raise standards in all comprehensive schools.


How do I use my best schools to yank up the rest?

Estelle Morris

The idea of advanced specialists - to add to the list which already includes "beacon" schools - was announced in a government consultation paper early last year.

Ms Morris said she was also considering setting up federations of two or more schools under a joint head teacher - "a strategic thinker or chief executive" - but with each school retaining a head of teaching.

Last month the minister came under fire last month for saying there were some schools she would not touch "with a barge pole".

In an interview with The Times newspaper, Ms Morris defended the comprehensive ideal but said it had failed to deliver for all.

"I thought it would break the link between social class and education and attainment," she told The Times.

"I am honest enough to say that after 30 years it has not delivered all I want."

Find your niche

Ms Morris said she wanted to see "differentness" in schools.

"I want schools to be incentivised to find their own niche in the market.


She can't resist that old Labour instinct to interfere and control

Damian Green
"Most of my schools are good. How do I move from good to brilliant?

"I still have a lot of school that are not very good. How do I use my best schools to yank up the rest?"

Looking ahead to next week's comprehensive spending review, Ms Morris said a big increase in the education budget would be "a sign that radical reform of secondary education can gather pace.

Old Labour instinct

Commenting on Ms Morris' interview, the Shadow Education Secretary, Damian Green, said: "The creation of yet another tier of Government-approved schools is a move in exactly the wrong direction."

"Instead of trying to create different types of school by dictation from the centre, the government should allow schools to develop the way parents, heads and governors want them to develop," said Mr Green.

"Estelle Morris has admitted that Labour's education thinking has been wrong for 40 years, but she can't resist that old Labour instinct to interfere and control.

"She talks the language of reform, but real reform will only come when heads are given back the power to deal with real problems such as discipline and exam overload."

Click for more on the education proposals

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See also:

24 Jun 02 | Education
24 Jun 02 | Education
01 May 02 | Education
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