Gove wants to release schools from state grip

The Conservatives will speed through plans to wrestle control of schools away from local authorities in an attempt to shake up Britain's "dumbed down" education system, they pledged yesterday.

Around 100 failing schools would be shut down and re-opened under new leadership within the first 18 months of a Tory government.

A senior Tory source told The Independent that the education Bill would be the major piece of legislation in the first Queen's speech following the next election. Failing headteachers will be sacked, while schools ranked "outstanding" by Ofsted will be given the automatic right to become academies and be freed from inspections in an effort to create a new system of "independent state schools".

Michael Gove, the shadow Schools Secretary, said: "We will, in our first hundred days, identify the very worst schools... and put them rapidly into the hands of heads with a proven track record of success. So a Conservative government would allow any school that is ready the chance to become a new academy."