Cameron vows rigour in Education policy

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David Cameron will today promise to sweep aside "defeatism" in the state school system and deliver the kind of diversity, choice and competition currently available only to privately-educated children.

Within the first 100 days of a Conservative administration, ministers would identify the worst performing schools, sack their heads and put them in the hands of people with a track record of success, he will pledge.

In a speech in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, the Tory leader will promise to free teachers of the "shackles" of regulation and targets and give them new powers to impose discipline and exclude trouble-making pupils.

And he will promise to sack examiners who believe students should be given marks in exams for writing "F off".

"As Prime Minister, I'd have two words for people like that and, yes, one of them does begin with an 'F'," Mr Cameron will say. "You're fired."

The Conservatives' flagship policy of allowing parents, charities, churches and social entrepreneurs to set up independent schools within the state system has come under attack from opponents who say few would want to take on the extra work.

But Mr Cameron will today say: "The pessimists, the cynics, the sceptics, say no-one wants to set up new schools, despite all the evidence from abroad. They say that people can't be bothered with the hassles. That parents don't care enough about their children and their communities to set up schools.

"They are wrong. There's so much optimism and ambition, waiting to be unleashed in this great country of ours."

Acknowledging that it will "take time" to set up new schools on the Swedish-style system, Mr Cameron will say that he nonetheless wants to "hit the ground hard" after winning power.

"We will - in our first 100 days - identify the worst schools and put them in the hands of heads with a proven track record of success," he will promise.

"Kick out the people who have failed their children and bring in those that have already passed the test."

A Tory administration will "cut quangos down to size, tear up the targets, slice out the waste and slash bureaucracies to the bone" in order to ensure that education cash goes on teachers and books instead of administration, he will say.

And he will promise new powers for teachers and heads to confiscate banned items and restrain violent pupils, along with changes in the law to ensure that students expelled for violent conduct are not returned to schools on appeal.

Tories would change teacher training to encourage high-performing graduates, ex-servicemen and experts in science and maths into the classroom, Mr Cameron will say.

And he will promise to put "rigour" at the heart of the curriculum.

"No longer will so many children leave primary school unable to read and write, or leave secondary school with no sense of our island story," he will say.

"No longer will we put up with an exam system that tests credibility rather than pupils, run by people who think a child should get marks for writing 'F off' in an exam.

"As Prime Minister, I'd have two words for people like that and, yes, one of them does begin with an 'F'. You're fired."

Setting out his vision of a "good school", Mr Cameron will describe it as "a school with a uniform, where children carry books not knives, where teachers have the freedom to teach as they want, to set by ability and to discipline as they see fit; where children have the chance to play sport, to paint or to play music; to look, to learn, to unlock their talents wherever they might lie".

And he will accuse Labour of ignoring the evidence on how to create schools of this kind.

"We will take on this culture of jaded defeatism, of dumbing down to the lowest common denominator, of mind-numbing political correctness," Mr Cameron will say.

"We will say to parents, to churches, to charities, to social entrepreneurs, to anyone that wants to set up a new school, if you can offer a good education, come and set up a good school.

"We won't refuse entry to the school system to innovators, to idealists, to those that can improve things or to parents wanting to do the best by their kids.

"We will say 'we welcome your help'.

"This will give us the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector and ensure that every parent, especially the poorest in our country, gets the same choice in the state sector for their children."

Mr Cameron was joining a rally of parents who want to open their own 900-place secondary school but have been refused permission by the Government.

The Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal Parents' Alliance (BBGPA) was set up amid fears a shake-up will leave them without a school in the area, forcing pupils to travel 45 minutes to the nearest one.

Last month Schools Secretary Ed Balls rejected the request, saying an independent report had shown the move would have a detrimental effect on education elsewhere in the borough.

He said Tory plans for Swedish-style, taxpayer-funded and non-fee paying "free schools" independent from state control would be expensive and have a negative impact on other children.

Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove told The Sunday Telegraph that a Tory administration would accept applications for new schools within weeks of taking office with the aim of having "hundreds of them on track to open within the first year".

"Parents don't want the titan schools that are growing all over the country, driven by Ed Balls's ideological agenda from the centre. It may be a bureaucratically convenient solution for local authorities but it is not what parents want," he said.

"And parents have had enough. We will allow groups to get together and say 'there are 1,000 parents here who can, in effect, give you £5,000 each in per pupil funding, if you can give us a school on this basis'."

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