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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 11:43 GMT
Tories promise school 'autonomy'
Green wants to say goodbye to political control of schools
Schools would have greater independence from government, under proposals put forward by the Conservatives.

Shadow Education Secretary Damian Green wants all schools to have a status of "assumed autonomy".

This policy, with echoes of a return to the grant-maintained status promoted by a previous Conservative administration, is being unveiled on Wednesday at the North of England Education Conference.

We need a clean break from the current doctrine that the Department for Education is the source of improved standards in schools

Damian Green, Conservative education spokesperson

This autonomy from central and local government would be dependent on schools meeting an agreed level of standards.

It would allow schools to employ their own teachers, control spending and buy in services such as catering or transport.

But schools could choose to stay under local authority control or form federations with other schools.

Opting out

"We need a clean break from the current doctrine that the Department for Education is the source of improved standards in schools," says Mr Green.

"Heads, teachers, governors and parents are the key players in driving up standards of learning and discipline, and they will only do so if they are in control. We are offering them that control."

There are also proposals launched by the Local Government Association Conservative Group which calls for a greatly-reduced role for local education authorities.

They would become responsible for monitoring school data and providing services to schools who did not want to opt out of local authority control.

The policies develop the Conservatives' argument that the government's education policies are too prescriptive and that schools would benefit from less interference.

Instead, the Conservatives advocate a system of state-funded schools which operate according to local needs.

At the last general election, the Conservatives' flagship policy of "free schools" became tangled in questions over how parents would negotiate thousands of schools operating separate policies over sensitive areas such as admissions.

But this latest push for de-centralisation appears to seek a balance between the principle of school autonomy and practical needs for co-ordination.

See also:

07 Oct 02 | Education
07 Oct 02 | Education
01 Apr 02 | Education
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