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Education Bill will lead to "dull uniformity"

March 14, 2006 4:00 PM

David Howarth, MP for Cambridge, has warned that transferring schools policy power to Westminster will lead to "dull uniformity" rather than higher standards.

Mr. Howarth's criticism comes ahead of the Parliamentary debate on the Education Bill on Wednesday. The Bill transfers powers from local government to central government and will prevent local authorities from starting new schools without the permission of the Education Secretary. If permission is granted, local authorities will then have to submit their plans to a government adjudicator.

Mr. Howarth commented:

"This Bill seems to pave the way for the abolition of elected local education authorities. Central government will use their new powers to impose a dull uniformity on schools policy, preventing the spread of good practice and new ideas from around the country.

"Instead of looking at how we can improve the education of each pupil, this Bill just talks about different sorts of schools and the rights of the various people who may want to take them over from local councils. This is entirely the wrong way around, we should be considering the pupils first and structures second.

"The Tomlinson Report did just that. The Government should be following its recommendations on how to provide every child with an education that suited them and provided the mix of academic and vocational courses to meet their individual talents and interests."

The Bill proposes that Trust schools, taken out of the local education system, will have the power to set their own admissions policies. Parents unhappy about the admissions policies or decisions of Trust schools would only be able to appeal to the Education Secretary or an unelected quango.

Mr. Howarth commented:

"The Government is misleading parents by promising them choice, their plans will lead to schools choosing pupils not the other way round.

"It is vital that we scrutinise these proposals very carefully and so I will be talking to teachers, parents and educational experts from around Cambridge about the details of the Bill and the educational needs in Cambridge."