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13/08/2010
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Schools

The Government believes that we need to reform our school system to tackle educational inequality, which has widened in recent years, and to give greater powers to parents and pupils to choose a good school. We want to ensure high standards of discipline in the classroom, robust standards and the highest quality teaching. We also believe that the state should help parents, community groups and others come together to improve the education system by starting new schools.

  • We will promote the reform of schools in order to ensure that new providers can enter the state school system in response to parental demand; that all schools have greater freedom over the curriculum; and that all schools are held properly to account.
  • We will fund a significant premium for disadvantaged pupils from outside the schools budget by reductions in spending elsewhere.
  • We will give parents, teachers, charities and local communities the chance to set up new schools, as part of our plans to allow new providers to enter the state school system in response to parental demand.
  • We will support Teach First, create Teach Now to build on the Graduate Teacher Programme, and seek other ways to improve the quality of the teaching profession.
  • We will reform the existing rigid national pay and conditions rules to give schools greater freedoms to pay good teachers more and deal with poor performance.
  • We will help schools tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying.
  • We will simplify the regulation of standards in education and target inspection on areas of failure.
  • We will give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils and take other measures to protect against false accusations.
  • We will seek to attract more top science and maths graduates to be teachers.
  • We will publish performance data on educational providers, as well as past exam papers.
  • We will create more flexibility in the exams systems so that state schools can offer qualifications like the IGCSE.
  • We will reform league tables so that schools are able to focus on, and demonstrate, the progress of children of all abilities.
  • We will give heads and teachers the powers they need to ensure discipline in the classroom and promote good behaviour.
  • We believe the most vulnerable children deserve the very highest quality of care. We will improve diagnostic assessment for schoolchildren, prevent the unnecessary closure of special schools, and remove the bias towards inclusion.
  • We will improve the quality of vocational education, including increasing flexibility for 14–19 year olds and creating new Technical Academies as part of our plans to diversify schools provision.
  • We will keep external assessment, but will review how Key Stage 2 tests operate in future.
  • We will ensure that all new Academies follow an inclusive admissions policy. We will work with faith groups to enable more faith schools and facilitate inclusive admissions policies in as many of these schools as possible.

View the Governments response to these comments

Your comments (438)

  1. Amie says:

    As a student who has just sat 16 GCSE exams, I think I am qualified to comment and to offer insight into both the joys and the failings of the secondary education system from my point of view.
    My experience of science is that it is a complete shambles and I find it unbelievable that the poor standard of teaching is allowed in this country – I would even say that teaching in this area especially is probably better in some third world countries that I visited last summer on a gap year.
    My and certainly others enjoyment of a subject varied wildly with the teacher we had been allocated for it. I recommend wholeheartedly that schools research and interview candidates thoroughly before offering them posts as teachers – it has been laughable to see some of the school’s suggestions for teachers who are seemingly incapable of operating a computer, let alone a class full of hormonal and rebellious teenagers.

    Finally, after our school paired up with a boarding school in China, it really opened my eyes to the wonderfully relaxed atmosphere that we have in our schools. The informal and laid back atmosphere at my school in particular allows students to develop and feel comfortable in their own skin. This is an area I have nothing but praise for in the education system.

  2. Paul says:

    This is not public consultation. It is a shameful attempt to fool the public into accepting radical change by getting them to psychologically ‘buy-into’ a perceived need for the harshest cuts ever. It is fake consultation, revealed by the complete lack of publicity and the ridiculously short timeframe. Do not be fooled. Do not take part. Do not allow them to say ‘the public told us to do it’.

  3. emma davison says:

    Schools are so much better than when i attended 25 years ago .PLease dont change too much as i realy feel things have changed or the better .Schools do need to be held accountable for how children are doing ,if they arent being tested how on earth do we know how well children are doing or how well the school is doing .Too many schools would see it as a sign for them to sit back and mull along liek they used to do during that last tory government

  4. Roger says:

    In these times of difficult decisions, it is fine to talk about the holistic side of education in broad terms, and these are very important. But also ensure that the right environment is available for schools. Please do not cut funding for schools in need of repair and modernisation. Also ensure that the correct tools to do the job are available to teachers to give our children the head start to compete for a good education (IT and science).

    Abolish SAT’s and other statistic driven and costly regimes, and allow the teachers to use their skills to develop individual learning plans for pupils that will help the child rather than getting them to pass a test.

    Please put more pressure and support for parents to help them be responsible for the behavior and respect for their children – and stop blaming schools. Please do not reduce the influence of faith schools, but monitor closely how they portray other faiths! It is quite clear that the reduction of emphasis on religious teaching has been mirrored in the behaviour of the children, despite waht the anti-religion people will tell you.

    Overal, better school infrastructure, less bureaucracy, more teaching!

  5. Bryn Roberts says:

    Stop requiring children to undertake “work experience”. It serves no purpose, other than to cause two weeks of disruption in offices and shops up and down the country.

  6. Matthew says:

    Concerned about the proposals for free schools and for the extension of academies. It is a concern that Michael Gove thinks it right that such a significant decision should be rushed through in a single half term. Surely more effective planning would be preferable.

    Given the financial constraints I would argue that establishing new schools and thus surplus places in other schools is hardly efficient use of money.

    I am also concerned that the proposals will result in an expansion of faith schools. This can only lead to further division in society. Schools should discuss religious and secular views but should not push a particular faith. I worry, given some of the comments posted on the site, that faith provision would be a license for homophobia and other views which have no place in the 21st century.

    Finally academies must be more transparent than they are currently and subject to the same freedom of information rules as LA schools.

  7. Benita says:

    We are a construction training provider and have been involved in the diploma in construction and the built enviornment. I was involved in the early workshops set up by the DfEE and QCA and the original intention was to support young people who would leave school with no qualification. In contrast, it has developed into a qualification for our high achievers. I do not feel that this qualification will help the young people who need something to get them qualified – there are plenty of existing qualifications for those that are academically able.

    A further problem with the diplomas is the inconsistency across the country. I have seen diploma programmes being developed in different areas and they bear no resemblance to each other. This, surely, is a recipie for disaster – employers, universities etc will not be able to assess a candidate’s ability on the basis of their diploma qualification.

  8. Sandra Leonard says:

    Grammar schools perpetuate elitism. Very few children from working class backgrounds access these schools. The majority of children who enter grammar schools will have had extra private tuition to help them pass the test. These children are not more able just more tutored!! How will you ensure that like all new Academies, Grammar schools follow an inclusive admissions policy?

    With regard to early years,

  9. David says:

    It is absolutely essential that no programmes of reform give unfair advantages to some schools at the expense of others. Children in all communities must have access to first rate education. The proposed schemes run the risk of greater inequalities in our schools. Religious selection must also be reviewed, given the divisive role that it plays in selection in many communities.

    Teaching must be made a more attractive profession by carefully reviewing pay, conditions and expectations. Schemes such as teach first will not be sufficient, in isolation, to ensure high quality entrants to the profession across the board. The national shortage of headteachers must also be addressed. Every school requires an excellent headteacher of its own, not an executive or federated leader.

    Ofsted is a failing organisation that, as the Conservative party has frequently pointed out over the last decade, has not overseen the rapid development in education that the last government predicted. Its methods must be reviewed and changed, and its remit must be reformed in order to support schools in improvement. If it is used as a mechanism to fail struggling comprehensives in order to enforce academy status, it will contribute further to the failure of central government to support our communities of greatest need.

  10. Helen says:

    Rather than grammar schools, let’s have more streaming within schools. This encourages children of all abilities to mix socially, but allows teaching to be delivered at the right pace for children. With grammar schools there’s far too much emphasis on one exam, which ‘reflect how performance might change as a child ages.

    Stop segregating schools into specialist academies – people ought to be able to go to their local schools. Also it’s good for artists and engineers and scientists to mix together rather than be separated at such a young age. You shouldn’t have to specialise so early on and it prevents creative thinking. Technology (i.e. classes delivered through video and online discussion forums) can allow schools to offer more subjects at a higher level of quality.

    Please keep religion and education separate. There are far too many faith-based schools already.

  11. J Clements says:

    In response to the above:
    “that all schools have greater freedom over the curriculum” – sadly, the recommendations of the Rose review which could have led to this have already been set aside, and a more rigourous primary curriculum has been promised, which will not allow for schools to have greater freedom.

    “We believe the most vulnerable children deserve the very highest quality of care.” – Surely this applies to ALL children

    “We will seek to attract more top science and maths graduates to be teachers” – it is not always the top graduates who make the best teachers.

    As many have already said, education would benefit from less political intervention and more freedom for the professionals to be allowed to do what they were trained to do.
    Rather than more parental choice there should be greater emphasis on improving all schools to an excellent level, sharing in best practice, so that whichever school a child attends is able to provide the best possible education.

  12. Sally Cooper says:

    Allowing parents and other groups to set up their own schools will not help those who need the help most, I believe it will take resources away from thos area insteade, creating further divides in our society.

  13. julie Corbett says:

    the SEN improvement test has failed to protect special schools. many children would like to transfer from primary to a small specialist secondary school. BSF in our area has made that an impossible dream. LA should have to provide education for young people who need and request a more protective school.

  14. kate says:

    Delay formal teaching until 7. Children who are young are currently starting school at 4 years old and coming home with homework at 5 years old. Too much pressure early on simply puts children off education and loses them from a young age. People do best when they stay in education longest, even beyond 21 and into adulthood. Please ensure teachers are not put under such pressure they turn education into a sprint.

  15. Jeff Laws says:

    It is heartening to see the opportunities being opened up in education. Careful thought will have to be given about the fairness of availability to all parents/children. Currently good schools are often oversubscribed and parents from more disadvantaged situations have little opportunity of stretching themselves to reach them. In a further review of the curriculum, please would you ensure the reduction of content and the co-ordination of assessment is included. Regardless of the facility to reward good teachers constraints on schools’ budgets make this virtually an impossibility anyway, With regard to accountability, parent groups are so changeable that consistency would be very hard to achieve. Because of the increasing complexity of the inspection processes, simplification and a reduction in the demand for so many diverse criteria to be met should be a major factor in any reform. Well trained a up to date inspectors who can share their expertise in a positive manner through an inspection process would do a great deal to improve the quality of schools. It is important that opportunity for a Christian perspective is mainatined in all schools as the sound moral base for our coutry depends upon Biblical truth.

  16. Brian says:

    Why do teachers have training days during term time? What is wrong with the other 13 weeks? Discipline is imperative to good teaching and the morale of teachers. The teachers and headmasters must have the ability to discipline pupils without fear of being overuled by the governers.

  17. elaine knox says:

    The Government’s obsession with parental choice, faith schools and its proposals to increase the number of academies (at a time when an increasing number of academies are failing to meet standards) will tear apart an education system already under strain. The gap between schools and the different types of establishment will become greater and will develop along affluence class and influence lines. The top strata of high performing schools, especially those in more affluent areas will be encouraged to opt out. They will be able to practice more discriminatory selection processes ensuring the most academically able pupils to maintain their positions. Local Authorities will be left with those schools that are failing and the pupils that no one else wants. at a time when resources will be slashed. This will result in a vicious circle of falling standards in these schools allowing the Government to blame Local Authorities for poor performance. Faith schools of the more extreme variety will be allowed to proliferate and we can look forward to the emergence of an American bible belt class of schoolsl banning Darwinism, sex education and a proliferation of bizarre non-secular teachings. Parental choice is a double edged sword – the majority of parents are interested primarily in their own children, not the greater good. There are many examples of parents with appalling behaviour and unlikely to make good choices who are not fit to run schools.

  18. MB says:

    Why spend money on training teachers and then allow unqualified parents to start their own schools as this is not likely to improve the standard of education for ALL children. Teaching and learning is a complex area that is best left to professions rather than amateurs. Don’t implement this policy PLEASE. Lots of people think they can teach but can’t. We have lots of skilled teachers trying to do their best for children so let them get on and teach. Consider halving the size of all secondary schools so they are less impersonal allowing greater opportunity for pastoral care for all children to reach their potential and this would mean you could cut all intervention programmes as they could be achieved in house. This alkso makes it easier to safe guard children’s well being and deal with any additional needs in an inclusive enviroment. Support teachers rather than blame them for failures in our society as only if we get the starting point right for young people can we hope to have a bright future as a country with less disaffected youngesters.

  19. Chetana says:

    I agree with the poster that said mmoney was put into QCA for a curriculum reofrm and now you are wishing to change it? Sorry, but I agree, that is wasting money.
    Schools are doing so much better than they use to be and it is because of these reforms.
    And yes, let Teachers teach please. Give them the power to control and discipline bad behaviour. You are just reducing more rights of teachers, which is getting increasly difficult.

  20. Ed Gilmore says:

    Significantly reform the GTC so that it provides value for money and doesn’t duplicate programs already provided elsewhere. A regulatory body certainly needs to be in place, but should they need to keep coming up with new, costly and cumbersome (and intrusive) schemes to justify their levels of funding?

  21. Please put the following, quoted from the Conservative manifesto, into practice:

    Every child who is capable of reading should be doing so after two years in primary school. To make this happen, we will promote the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics and ensure that teachers are properly trained to teach using this method. To provide parents with the reassurance they need that their child is making progress, we will establish a simple reading test at the age of six.

  22. Tim Bentley says:

    I would reduce the default school leaving age from 16 years to 15 years. To make up the time I would increase the length of the school day and reduce the length of holidays which have always been far too long.
    This measure would save millions which could be partly used to help pay off the national debt and the rest for boosting adult training and appentices for school leavers.

  23. Jane Grierson says:

    Free up education and loosen the straight jacket of the National Curriculum – we have a huge deficit in our economy – but our real wealth lies within the talents and ideas of our young people – in fact within the creativeness and ingenuity of people of all age groups -

  24. Tim says:

    Education is fundamental to our society in terms of developing balanced, skilled, socially aware citizens so it must be a priority.

    Given that, in order for Britain to get the best value for money out of the education system we MUST

    1) Stop blaming schools / teachers for all problems and get parents to take responsibility for the behaviour of their children;
    2) Restore much greater powers to heads and teachers to deal with and, if ultimately necessary, exclude children who disrupt school life and other pupils’ learning opportunities;
    3) Facilitate targeted development of similar ability pupils by streaming so able children can get on and learn and achieve and those less able / interested in learning can be supported and focused on to maximise the skills / potential they have;
    4) Encourage competition and ambition – we need to ensure our children understand that life after school is not a walk in the park and that you have to work hard, compete and keep on trying in life to achieve your aims in life;
    5) Make sure we are developing children to be the future employees of the country – we should not encourage everyone to go to University as it is not for all and many could do much better via vocational education / apprenticeships and trades -
    6) Schoolsshould include financial education for everyone so they manage money well and learn about debt and credit and that living outside their means will end in disaster !
    7) Headteachers should have business training as running a school is like a small business and most teachers (and Heads) I have met are not that business savvy.

  25. RG says:

    I do not agree with faith schools excluding others yet getting the best results. We are not a Christian family yet our little girl will not be permitted to even apply for the best schools in the region! How is that fair? This is very wrong and their admissions policy needs to be addressed urgently. Good principals and morals should apply to both religious and non-religious schools.

  26. Colin Martyn says:

    League tables should also not be detrementally affected by recent additions to a school roll or by absentism as at present

  27. Colin Martyn says:

    Giving Parents, Charities and local communities support to set up their own schools just makes for more indoctrinated children which means they will be less socially-inclusive in adult life. Many Parents and interested groups just have their own blinkered and divisinve views on life. This government should be trying to make schools more secular and inclusive.

  28. Catherine Beer says:

    Right and proper to cut back the quangos and red tape swamping education but I am not in favour of academies or ‘free’ schools – in fact I dislike the idea of any student selection based on any other criteria other than academic standards, especially those schools which are focused on ‘faith.’ Why not re-introduce a new form of grammar school instead? We need to become a meritocratic country. Notably once grammar schools were abandoned, private schools thrived. We still need LEA involvement in our schools, not the centralised tendency of the academy system. As for the GCSE/A-Level ‘fiasco’ that comes around every year when students gain record results, please make these exams harder – nobody trusts the results which is unfair for both schools and students involved. Unsurprisingly universities are considering their own entrance exams because the academic standard offered by these exams isn’t trusted.

  29. Sarah Bernard says:

    The standard of education has clearly fallen. The standard of education of the teachers has fallen. Society has become so lacking in morals and respect, that it is now difficult to motivate children to learn. We need to show less tolerance to bad behaviour, inappropriate dress and language – top down as ever.

  30. Colin Martyn says:

    The coalition should investigate how federated schools are being introduced. Councils are using this initative to negate and devalue the NPQH qualification allowing under-qualified people to effectively control the education within a school, without the necessary experience or training, as it will cost less money.
    Once again, a possibly good idea has been fatally undermined by those in control of education who have no real interest in children, only in the statistics surrounding them.

  31. W Hall says:

    I agree with comments by Angela, kb, Tony Whittaker (1) and 4) especially) and Penny Powell.

    School leaving age: Please do not raise to 18. When I worked for Connexions, 14 year olds used to ask for jobs. Apart from a very limited range of part time jobs, we had to tell them they would have to wait until they were 16 and had left school. They were clearly demotivated by school and for the next 2 years would, at best, get nothing useful out of it and, at worst, cause anti-social behaviour. If the leaving age is raised to 18, they will spend 4 years in that limbo. Improved vocational training and apprenticeships will help but some young people learn best through being given the hands on experience and the responsibility that come with a ‘proper’ job and are best motivated by receiving a pay packet . Ideally, if they want to return to learning when they have seen the practical application of some of the subjects they were studying, they could be allowed to do so, up to the age of 18 or 20.

    Literacy: Please ensure all children can read and write at an early stage. Otherwise they will not be able to engage in other classes, and are likely to become bored and demotivated and behave badly.

    Academic / vocational skills: From the age of 11, please bring back ’streaming’ to the extent that children with academic skills and children with practical skills are given appropriate education/training to develop those skills to the highest level they can. But please do not allow the stigma to creep in that academically gifted children are in some way superior to those with more practical skills (a problem, I think, with grammar schools and secondary moderns in the past)

    Discipline: Please support schools in making it clear bad behaviour will not be tolerated and in taking action against those that do behave badly. Please ensure early intervention with children who are beginning to behave unacceptably and teach children and young people their responsibilities alongside their rights.

  32. Silke says:

    A later, or more flexible school start age – better for children – choice for parents – and potential savings.

    A great number of parents, and education professionals more than most others, believe that there should be a review of school start age or a more flexible start age.

    The most comprehensive review of primary education for 40 years, the Cambridge Primary Review, published last autumn, found that children should start their formal learning at the age of six, not at 4 or 5 as its done in the UK just now. Unfortunately this enormously substantive review has not received the hearing it desires.

    4 to 5 year olds are too young to start school. They are emotionally and intellectually not ready and can be put off learning. The current early start does, at best, nothing good, the review says, and at worst, turns young kids off learning. The UK is the only European country starting kids so young at school. All other European countries start their children at age 6 or 7, with excellent results.

    In fact, pre-school learning is known to develop a range of vital skills such as gauging, risk taking, lateral thinking, social skills etc, which tomorrow’s adults will need more than ever, to compete successfully in the global environment. The most important skill we can teach our children is the skill and joy of learning. With the rate of change ever increasing, tomorrow’s adults need to be able to embrace continuous learning and skills development. To do this, they need to be able to enjoy, and know how to learn.

    In addition, a later school start would inevitably save money, as even state paid for nursery education is not as costly as primary school education.

    Also, kids as young as 4, are in school for over 31 hours a week, just short of a full working week for adults. Many parents and carers know that this is too long for most kids, and that a loving parental environment offers kids a much better start in life. Again, there are opportunities for savings here as well as more choice for parents.

    A school start of 6 years was also a commitment in the Lib Dem Manifesto of 2003.

  33. Geraldine Carter says:

    For the whole of their education, it is imperative that the foundations of literacy are in place. For those children who require one-to-one teaching, it is bewildering to note that you are intending to leave in place a massively expensive, widely criticised programme when effective synthetic phonics programmes, costing a fraction of its cost ,are sidelined.

  34. Tom says:

    We need a later school start at age 6 or 7, and a shorter school day for Primary school children.

  35. Lucy O'Sullivan McCormick says:

    My 3 children were (mostly) educated abroad in the French lycee system and now speak 3 languages apiece (English/French/German). These schools cost us, their parents, approx £4500 per year per child which I understand is less than the amount educating a child in the UK state system costs. My question: why cannot the UK adapt such a system here. It is highly academic (no truck with slackers; repeating of years if fail exams; respect for teachers and high standards; parental input essential). Even the European school system and European bac is preferable (children are taught bi and tri lingually…gives greater brain flexibility.). Please do not allow languages to be ignored. My 3 (now adult) children are more open, tolerant and better educated as a result.

  36. Walter Morauf says:

    A ) The quality of the questions in the examination papers for GCSE has plummeted. In mathe, all sciences and languages.
    I just had a paper on chemistry, where from 9 main questions with 3 to 5 sub-question only 10% needed actual chemical knowledge to answer the questions. Reading of the starting information and the following questions was already enough to answer the questions.

    B ) Not too long ago in GCSE-math-papers pupils were supposed to use the knowledge of year 7 and 8 in answers during calculation. Last year I noticed, that showing how to reduce a fraction was worth 1 point each, total of 3. To get decimals right was worth an other 2 points.

    C ) Not too long ago a pupil at GCSE-level knew in chemistry WHAT an acid was. Today they know only, what one can use it for.

    D-1 ) When one compares class-picture from 10 years ago, say from year 8, with one of the same age taken this year, one can see the difference in “child-like-expressions”. Todays picture of a year 8 class would compare to an year 11 class picture from 10 years ago. This basically means, that our children are robbed of their childhood by sexualising their thinking long before the rest of the personality is able to handle it. Sex-education has to be replaced with: “How does one build and especially maintain a meaningful Friendship (relationship).” “How to avoid material things as a measure of self-value!” .
    D-2 ) The advertising is also telling children aged 3 to 5, that they know better than the grown-ups, which undermines any possible respect for ones own parents or teacher.

    E ) Religious Studies have been devoid of spiritual content since the early 1970ties. If one is not able to speak about the basic points, upon which a belief is kept alive, any religion is spiritually kastrated and separated from its value system, which is the basis for any daily action. Any serious comparison of the about 100 bigger faith-groups will show how much they have in common, especially with regard towards: family, handling of sexuality, treatment of believers of other faiths, community cohesion, physical-, spiritual- and sexual- health.
    I hope the government can change this house of cards into a real edifice.

    F -1 ) Any sexual health information, which does not use the data of condom-producers on failure rates, is committing knowingly mis-information. Any condom producer has on their website a [searchable] failure rate of 10 to 18%. WHY is the “Sex-Education-Curriculum” telling the teenagers it is ALWAYS SAFE???
    F -2 ) Over 80% of all sexual transmitted diseases can be transmitted by just touching or oral sex, These also have been “hailed” as a safe option. All which is needed, is a small cut in the skin, which is usually present in about 90% of all teenagers, especially for those, who nibble on their nails. Purposly hiding facts, which have consequences of life and death, committed at a source charged by the public with making sure of and then telling the true facts, I consider to be criminal act perpetrated against the whole of the population.

    G ) The sizes of classes has a direct measurable effect on the learning of a especially primary children. Any primary class over 15 pupils starts to reduce the possible learning outcome. Therefore the Primary Schools should be able to have these class-sizes, which also will contribute to a reduction of disturbances during lessons , as most of the disturbances stemming from pupils with a feeling of not beeing connected enough with the teacher.

  37. Walter Morauf says:

    The term “New Provider” is rather vage, How much influence, if any, can such a new provider take on the runnig of the school and the curriculum for all subjects or just a few?? ON the appointment of staff ??
    What kind of time committment has the new provider to enter into?? Any clause what the new provider has to expect, when he falls short of agreed provision??
    When a new provider hails from a different religious background than the school, are there safeguards, that the religious orientation of the school will not be influenced???
    To whom can govenors be made accountable? Especially with the appointment of staff.

  38. Ian Hope says:

    I have been a teacher in a bog standard comprehensive for 12 years following 20 years as a Solicitor in privatepractice.We all want excellent schools for every child preparing students able to meet the demands of a changing society.Times are tough and getting tougher.I simply fail to understand how throwing money indiscriminately through Building Schools For the Future makes any sense at all.Schools are being rebuilt or substantially refurbished where there is very little wrong with the existing structure.Using public money to provide work for construction companies for national economy reasons is completely misguided.Isincerely hope the Coalition will look at this urgently and restructure the programme to make sensible use of limited funds
    Many schools have top heavy management structures with too many chiefs and not enough indians.Too much time is spent on beurocracy and not enough on facing into the demands of the classroom.Teachers need effective training to take account of modern technology and how best to engage and motivate students to succeed.
    Choice is not the answer. Providing excellent schools throughout the state system should be the absolute priority.