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Sunday, 9 July, 2000, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Woodhead praises Hague's schools plan
Chris Woodhead
Chris Woodhead criticised government policy
The Chief Inspector of Schools in England, Chris Woodhead, has said Conservative education polices have "struck a chord" with teachers.

The proposals relaunched by the Tory leader, William Hague, last week include giving schools far more autonomy over finance and admissions, and head teachers the final say on disipline matters.

Mr Woodhead said the teaching profession was "supportive" of Mr Hague's plans and accused the government of being unclear about what it wants from schools.

Good head teachers should be given the freedom to manage their own destiny

Chris Woodhead

"William Hague has struck a chord. The teacher unions were supportive of the emphasis the Conservatives are putting on discipline and uniform," he said on GMTV's The Sunday Programme.

"Serious discussion about education is being rescued from party political knockabout and that can only be a good thing."

Mr Hague claims his changes would be the most radical the education system had experienced since 1944.

Pledges included an extra 540 per pupil for schools under a Conservative government and the chance for schools to decide their own admissions policy, using selection.

Mr Woodhead said the government's line on education was unclear, citing its message on expulsion as an example.

'Bogged down'

"Good head teachers should be given the freedom to manage their own destiny and the final right to exclude or not exclude pupils. The interests of the majority must be kept right at the front," he said.

"I think the message the current government has sent out has been misinterpreted by many heads.

"Many head teachers think they have got to keep everybody on board and that misinterpretation must be corrected.

"The message must be crystal clear and recently it hasn't been."

William Hague
Hague wants schools to take control of own finances

Speaking about a head teacher who recently left his job to become a lorry driver because of mounting bureaucracy, Mr Woodhead said he was pushing the government to reduce red tape.

"We do not want head teachers who are bogged down by paperwork, who are sitting in their offices while they should be walking the corridors and the playgrounds," he said.

"The government has got to realise that. We are not there yet, we must get there and quickly."

Referring to Euan Blair's arrest for being drunk and incapable, he said parents had to accept a huge responsibility when it came to children drinking alcohol.

"How parents behave and what they do in their free time obviously has an impact on their children," he said.

"Schools cannot wave a magic wand, and solve every social problem. Every parent across the land has got to think about the contribution they are making to their child's upbringing."

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See also:

04 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Hague offers extra 540 per pupil
04 Jul 00 | Education
Hague's tricky balancing act
02 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Hague backs school uniform
07 Jul 00 | Education
Troubled schools find new heads
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