Letter: At the chalkface

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The Independent Culture

At the chalkface

Sir: I was surprised to read Anne McElvoy's assertion ("The prophet of New Britain is showing signs of mortality", 15 September) that "the planned pace of substantial changes to the way that [Education is] run has been slow and partial".

Her comment coincided with the publication of the national test results in English and Maths where, after a single year of major reform in primary schools, we have seen substantial improvements.

Primary schools have been transformed with the literacy and numeracy lessons and have a sense of purpose and achievement which had too often been absent in the past.

The results come at the end of a single year of change in education. But it is certainly not all we have done. In the early years, Sure Start and a big expansion in nursery places (with most new places for three- year-olds in voluntary settings) are giving youngsters a more equal start in life. This term has started with a further big fall in infant class sizes.

In secondary education, we have already doubled the number of specialist schools - and will do so again by 2003.

The Excellence in Cities programme which starts this term is ensuring that every youngster in inner city comprehensives is able to meet their potential - with significant extra money for meeting the needs of gifted children, setting by subject ability and learning mentors.


Secretary of State for Education and Employment

: ondon SW1