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EDITIONS
 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 16:10 GMT
Tories set up education test-bed
Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith calls for higher school standards
The Conservatives have set up an "education commission" to test how their own policies might work in practice.

Launched on Monday by party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, the commission will help to develop Conservative plans for schools and universities.

And the commission will examine the impact of current government education initiatives.

"One of their first inquiries will be into standards in primary schools, and the best way to improve on the current position when a quarter of 11 year olds leave without being able to read, write, or count properly," said Conservative education spokesperson, Damian Green.

"The commission will also be looking at issues such as teacher recruitment and retention, and at the various problems of higher education. It will produce a series of reports during the course of this Parliament on single issues," said Mr Green.

The commission will be chaired by Sir Robert Balchin, a former chairman of the former Grant Maintained Schools Foundation, appointed under a Conservative government.

Opting out

The Conservatives recently announced a policy of allowing state schools to opt out from local and central government control, which was likened to the grant maintained scheme.

Speaking at a west London primary school, Mr Duncan Smith said that school standards needed to be improved.

"Britain is the fourth richest country in the world, but today every fourth child is leaving primary school unable to read and write, and count properly. That is simply unacceptable.

"Our economy and our country will pay a heavy price if we allow so many of our youngest generation to continue along the road to ignorance.

"We have not just jeopardised their futures, we are also jeopardising ours. Improvements in literacy and numeracy have become stalled. Teaching methods are too prescriptive. They ignore the needs of children who are in the greatest need of our help."

See also:

08 Jan 03 | Education
07 Oct 02 | Education
07 Oct 02 | Education
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