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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 13:20 GMT
Tory call to 'set schools free'
Damian Green
Green promising "revolution"
A Conservative government would "break the cycle of underachievement" by giving schools more independence, the shadow education secretary is due to say.

But Damian Green is expected to say that parents will not be allowed to vote on whether their children's school opts out from local authority control.

Instead the decision would be made by the board of governors and head teacher.

Mr Green, in a speech to the Adam Smith Institute in London, will give further details of his proposals to loosen the control of local and central government over schools.

Describing the plans as the "most radical education reform for more than 25 years", Mr Green wants schools to "manage their own affairs".

Pupils attending these would be funded by a system of "state scholarships", where "money followed the pupil".

And successful schools would be allowed to expand as much as they wanted, with the abolition of the "surplus places" restrictions.

At present, there are regulations controlling the growth of schools, which are intended to prevent less popular schools losing so many pupils that they become unviable.

There would also be state funding for new schools where there was sufficient parental demand.

Well-motivated teachers

Under the Conservative plans, schools could employ their own teachers, control spending and buy in services, such as catering or transport.

Mr Green is due to say such changes are necessary to provide "well-motivated heads and teachers".

They can "decide how best to get their pupils over the hurdles that parents and society as a whole demand that they be able to jump", he will add.

"Otherwise you will create a resentful profession that wearily approaches each task in the spirit of 'What does the minister want this week', rather than 'What can I offer these children?"

"Twenty years ago we offered home ownership to millions of people. The next Conservative government will offer educational excellence to millions more than expect it at present," Mr Green will say.

At the last general election, the Conservative Party's "free schools" plan was criticised, amid questions over how parents would negotiate a system which allowed every school to have a separate admissions policy.

See also:

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