Redwood targets school standards

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The Independent Online

Education Editor

All schools in Wales should set their own improvement targets by the turn of the century, John Redwood, Secretary of State for Wales, said in a new education blueprint published yesterday.

Any school where fewer than two out of 10 pupils achieve five GCSEs at grades A to C will be visited by school inspectors, the consultation paper says.

Mr Redwood, who is on the right of his party, has shown that he is keen to push ahead with his own agenda for education regardless of Gillian Shepherd, the Secretary of State for Education.

His target for Wales is that by 2000 half of all 15-year-olds should gain grades A to C in each of GCSE maths, science and English or Welsh, whichever is their first language. At present, the paper says, fewer than three in 10 pupils achieve this compared to six out of 10 in France and Germany.

A scheme for schools to set their own improvement targets has already been launched in labour-controlled Birmingham. Schools agree to improve against their previous best performance while the local authority promises to improve the service it offers.

Mr Redwood says primary schools' targets should aim to raise achievement in literacy and numeracy while secondary schools should aim for better GCSE, A-level and vocational qualifications. "The good schools rightly celebrate achievement at every level," he said. "The bad schools tell pupils that success doesn't matter and fail to inspire them to go forward with confidence in life."