The Department for Education is committed to creating a world-class state education system. We will work to improve the opportunities and experiences available to children and the education workforce by focusing on the following priorities:

Giving greater autonomy to schools

In many of the most successful education systems in the world, individual schools are given a high level of autonomy. It is headteachers and teachers, not bureaucrats and politicians, who inspire pupils and drive school improvement.

In addition to the existing Academies programme, which will continue to drive faster improvements in deprived and disadvantaged areas, we will now also invite all schools to apply for the kind of autonomy that has served schools in America, Canada, Sweden and Finland so well.

Improving parental choice

For too long, too many parents have been denied the choice of a good local school, with an antiquated admissions system that has relegated the poorest children to a second-rate education.

As well as improving standards in all schools, we will capitalise on the passion of parents, teachers and charities who want to make a difference by making it easier for them to set up and run their own schools.

Offering more support for the poorest

We’re committed to spending more on the education of the poorest children. Our pupil premium is designed to tackle deep-rooted disadvantage by taking additional money from outside the schools budget to ensure those teaching the poorest children get the resources they need to deliver smaller class sizes, more one-to-one or small group tuition, longer school days and more extra-curricular activities.

Over the past ten years, the gulf in achievement between the rich and the poor has widened and the achievement gap between fee-paying schools and state schools has doubled. We are determined to narrow this gap.

Whole system improvement

Nothing matters more in education than attracting the best people into teaching. We will attract more great teachers into the classroom by expanding Teach First and further enhancing the prestige and esteem of the teaching profession.

The biggest single barrier to good people starting, or staying, in education is poor pupil behaviour. We will focus relentlessly on improving behaviour by ensuring that parents accept their responsibilities, teachers have the discretion they need, and pupils respect adult authority at all times.

Great quality provision for children

We’re working with ministers across Government to end child poverty over the next ten years. We’re committed to bringing Sure Start back to its original purpose: helping the poorest and most vulnerable families.

We’re also giving greater autonomy to social workers, freeing up their time so they can help more families and children. At the same time, we’re improving the systems we use to safeguard children and young people.

Finally, we will reform the National Curriculum so that it reflects the best collective wisdom we have about how children learn, and what they should know.

We will publish a White Paper in the autumn of 2010 setting out further details of our commitments.