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EDITIONS
Monday, 3 February, 2003, 16:19 GMT
Tories attack 'egalitarianism'
School
The Conservatives want a different culture in schools
"Egalitarianism" threatens standards in schools and universities, says the Conservative party leader, Iain Duncan Smith.

Emphasising the ideological differences between his party and the government, Mr Duncan Smith, has attacked the "anti-elitist" culture of the government.

"Of all the post-war doctrines the Conservatives are currently challenging, egalitarianism is the one that makes me the most angry, because it is the cruellest and most destructive," Mr Duncan Smith is expected to say in a speech on Monday.

We cannot achieve excellence, if no one is allowed to excel

Iain Duncan Smith

Mr Duncan Smith argues that the "pernicious" culture of egalitarianism has eroded the pursuit of educational excellence.

And he attacks the introduction of an "access regulator" in higher education as political interference which will not improve standards.

According to Mr Duncan Smith, the way to widen access to universities is to raise standards in state schools.

And he quotes statistics showing there was a higher proportion of state school students at Oxford University in 1969 than in the present intake.

Dumbing down

"We cannot achieve excellence, if no one is allowed to excel," says Mr Duncan Smith.

"At its simplest, egalitarianism means making our children more equal by dumbing-down our education system to the point where standards become meaningless because everyone can achieve them."

The Conservative leader attacked the "rigging" of educational results to fit in with a political agenda.

And he warned that pupils were not being stretched because teachers were unwilling to fail schoolwork.

Under a Conservative government, he promised that schools would have a culture where pupils would be academically challenged and where discipline would be imposed.

Head teachers need the power to enforce discipline in their own schools, he said.

And he repeated a promise to scrap appeals panels for pupils who have been excluded.

He also reiterated proposals to allow state schools to opt out from local authority control and to provide funding parents wanting to set up their own school.

See also:

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