AGENDA: Why Good Education Is a Key Economic Imperative; in His First Major Speech on Education Prime Minister Gordon Brown Yesterday Vowed to Crack Down on Failing Schools and Raise Standards. This Is an Extract
Byline: Gordon Brown
I believe that each young person has talent and potential. Each some gift to develop. Each something to give to the good of the community.
And the Britain I strive for is a Britain with no cap on ambition, no ceiling on hope, no limit to where your potential will take you and how far you can rise: a Britain where the talents of each contribute to the well being and prosperity of all.
The excellence in education that we need for this is not just a noble ideal - the search for knowledge, the pursuit of wisdom and the fulfilment of human potential - but an economic imperative too.
In the past those who had the raw material - the coal, the oil and the basic commodities, or the infrastructure - the ports and communications, were the ones that had competitive advantage.
Today what matters is who has the ideas, the insights, the skills and the creativity.
The countries that will succeed are those who do more than unlock some of the talents of some of their young people: they will strive to unlock all the talents of all of their people.
And in the last ten years we have moved our education system from below average to above average.
But we have to do more than that.
Our ambition must be nothing less than to be world class in education and to move to the top of the global education league.
And so it is time to say: not just that we will aim high, but that we can no longer tolerate failure, that no longer will it be acceptable for any child to fall behind, no longer acceptable for any school to fail its pupils, no longer acceptable for young people to drop out of education without good qualifications without us acting.
It is not just parental involvement that matters. Young people's aspirations matter too.
The great failure is not the child who doesn't reach the stars, but the child who has no stars to reach for.
And as every teacher knows, you cannot educate those who you cannot motivate.
But we know sometimes that helping boys in particular to aspire and aim higher comes up against boredom, distraction and disaffection. A sense that the classroom isn't for them. And the downward pull of peer pressure.
So we have also to raise boys' aspirations: provide education that can enthuse and engage; provide different opportunities for vocational learning as young people prepare for the transition to the world of work.
And the very idea of personalising learning is about helping children become more aspi-rational: that we identify talent, we shape education around the unique needs and aspirations of the child, and we engage pupils in their own learning - giving them a thirst for education and knowledge that will stay with them long after they have left school.
We will be expanding our Gifted & Talented Programme - giving one million of our most talented children the opportunity to benefit from special, stretching tuition.
We are boosting activity in those areas which can unlock so many different forms of talent: sports, music, the arts and culture, and enterprise.
We will continue to increase the number of student ambassadors from universities working in schools from 4,500 in 2003 to 7,200 now - helping promote the benefits of higher education to younger pupils.
And we will build on our 'Aim Higher' programme so that we increase the aspiration to go to university - just as universities themselves reach down into schools and colleges and hold summer schools to help lift young people's sights towards higher education.
And because raising aspirations is at the heart of raising standards, I can today announce that we will ask the National Council for Educational Excellence - working with schools and universities, the Sutton Trust and other organisations - to report to us on how we can increase applications to universities from comprehensives in disadvantaged areas. …