White paper sets out radical reform for schools

All schools will be encouraged to become self-governing independent state schools, under new plans set out in the education white paper to be published today.

The change would put parents in the driving seat, making it easier for them to oust senior teaching staff or set up new schools where they are dissatisfied, exercise more choice about where their children go to school, and be more involved in decisions on the curriculum.

Local authorities’ involvement would be less about directly delivering education services and more about championing the rights of parents and pupils, while the voluntary sector and local businesses would be welcomed as schools’ partners.

“The system will finally be opened up to real parent power,” the prime minister said on the eve of the paper’s publication. “All schools will be able to have Academy-style freedoms. All schools will be able to take on external partners. No-one will be able to veto parents starting new schools or new providers coming in, simply on the basis that there are local surplus places. The role of the LEA will change fundamentally.

“There will be relentless focus on failing schools to turn them round. Ofsted will continue to measure performance albeit with a lighter touch. But otherwise the schools will be accountable not to government at the centre or locally but to parents, with the creativity and the enterprise of the teachers and school leaders set free.”

The white paper will also propose more advanced classes for the brightest pupils, and more support for teachers and teaching assistants to work one-to-one with children who need extra help with literacy and numeracy.

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