Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Tories Will Tackle Education Crisis and the Culture of Disrespect

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Tories Will Tackle Education Crisis and the Culture of Disrespect

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID CAMERON

AS the Evening Standard showed last week, as many as 40 per cent of secondary schools in the capital are failing to ensure teenagers achieve the expected standards in English, maths and science.

And as research published by the Conservative Party today shows, for the most deprived children in London, the problem is getting worse. At every key stage, results show a widening gap between the poorest kids and the average.

The end result is declining social mobility. Despite decades of growing national wealth, on this key measure of social progress we have actually gone backwards.

Social breakdown starts with family breakdown. But schools have a vital part to play. Too often, however, the dysfunction and the crime are brought into school, not left at the gates. The result is a vast army of wasted talent - and it does not sit quietly by. But I do not believe that Labour have the clarity of analysis, the courage, or even the competence, to do what's needed.

For years politicians have been arguing over educational structures. Of course these things matter. But structural reform takes time. There are things we could and should be doing right now to give every child a proper chance to climb the ladder of opportunity.

First, we must insist on higher standards of academic rigour. The teaching of reading and writing, in particular, is often still very poor.

Synthetic phonics should be the norm in all primary schools, and teaching methods should be inspected by Ofsted. We need a sharper focus on core subjects in secondary education, and better skills training. And we should encourage schools to use more setting and streaming.

Second, we must tackle the crisis in the recruitment of head teachers.

Future Leaders, a dynamic social enterprise which grew out of the pioneering Teach First programme, is doing fantastic work identifying and training the heads of the future. …

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