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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 13:18 GMT
Blair backs individual learning
Small classes
There should be smaller classes at the start of secondary, says report
Gifted pupils in England are to receive extra support, in a government move to create a more "personalised" education.

Children in deprived areas should also have more support in English and maths, says a public service policy review launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It also proposes smaller tuition groups for the last year of primary school and first year of secondary.

A pilot project testing more individual approaches to learning is to be held in 10 local authorities in England.

The policy review is an attempt to find how public services can be made more responsive to the needs of those who are using them - and how the public can have more individual choice.

Smaller groups

"Increasing choice does not mean compromising the drive to reduce inequity," says the report - and its wide-ranging proposals outline other areas in which public services could be "customised".

Primary pupils
Schools' funding should reflect the progress of pupils, says report

It says the organisation supporting the brightest pupils - the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth - should extend its work to primary schools, which already are supposed to keep registers of gifted children.

For "key transition points", such as the end of primary and beginning of secondary school, there should be tutor groups with smaller numbers of pupils, to support their maths and English.

Schools should have a greater emphasis on tracking the progress of individual pupils - and pupils should be aware of what they should be achieving.

Parents should also have more up-to-date information on their children's progress and about their homework - using websites, texts or e-mails.


The review also suggests ways in which a more diverse range of providers and greater competition could be used to give a wider choice to families looking for a school place.

Bricklaying course
Further education colleges must be responsive to employers, says review

It says it should be easier to set up a small school - which could then be expanded if it proved successful.

And it says further education colleges should be more responsive to employers' needs. If they failed to deliver, either as an institution or an individual department, "new providers should be able to compete".

The funding of schools should also reflect their ability to improve the achievement of individual pupils, it says.

This might involve progress targets for each pupil - which it suggests would provide a financial incentive to raise the grades of under-achievers.

'Fantasy world'

The review suggests that public services should make use of "user satisfaction surveys".

This was rejected by the leader of the National Union of Teachers, Steve Sinnott, as "skewed towards the fantasy world of eBay and Amazon style league tables".

Head teachers' leader John Dunford said schools backed the goal of personalised learning and recognised the importance of engaging with parents.

But he rejected the idea that parents should be allowed to publish damaging views and individual criticisms on a public website.

The pilot projects, announced by the Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, will test some ideas for a more personalised style of learning - including one-to-one catch-up classes and payments to schools for pupils' progress.

The two-year pilot, beginning in September, will involve schools in 10 areas, chosen from more than 30 which put in bids: Bexley, Calderdale, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Liverpool, Solihull, South Tyneside and Westminster.

Shadow education secretary David Willetts said he hoped it would be a genuine pilot, to see how the measures worked before they were taken forward.

"There are some interesting ideas here, but there are significant practical issues around personalised learning, not least with tests being taken at different ages."

He added: "What we really need is much more use of setting and streaming."

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