Tuesday, 19 January 2010

GE2010: Gainsborough: Edward Ligh 'I believe' #2

Edward Leigh (Conservative) MP for the Gainsborough Constituency in the first of a series of regular articles, published on his website, in which he will talk about the issues that matter leading up to the election, Mr. Leigh presents his views on the topic of social security.


As the father of six children I am very interested in education. My wife and I have tried a mix of all types of education for our children; state and private, English and French, day and boarding, faith and secular.

I am not an educational theorist, I am only a parent. I believe that at the end of all this, no type of education is consistently superior to any other.

I do believe in the maximum variety of provision to suit all needs, skills and ambitions.

So my conclusion is clear. Head teachers, both in the private and state sectors must be free to run their schools with the greatest possible freedom.

They should be free to hire and fire staff in order to get the best.
They should be free to set wage rates to get the best staff, particularly where teachers are scarce, such as in the teaching of maths.
Head teachers should set their own curriculum and not be bound by a rigid national curriculum.
We should move gradually to a situation where they are able to decide on which pupils join the school and on the criteria upon which this is based. In fact, the overwhelming majority of schools should always be broad based in their ability range.
Eventually I would like to see a time when the money for a pupil’s education follows the pupil. Any pupil at any school should attract the same basic support from the state, with additional support for special needs according to a statement. This would have to be brought in gradually, starting in year R and building up steadily starting in deprived post codes. Naturally traditional HMI inspections would continue to weed out any incompetence.
I believe that if we break down the divisions between the independent and state sectors, if we set our schools free and if head teachers had to respond to parents, not government targets, then we really could have the best education in the world.

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