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Blair's borough to tackle standards in secondaries

The chief executive of the north London borough of Islington, Leisha Fullick, shares with Tony Blair, one of the residents, the view that education has to be centre stage.

This week she designated Islington a learning borough, notwithstanding the fact that its secondary schools produce exam results that are far below the national average.

The central focus of the initiative is to set up local partnerships between institutions and the private sector with the aim of raising standards.

The chief executive, formerly director of education in the London borough of Lewisham, accepts that a Labour government may not be able to allocate substantial increases in the amount of funding available for education.

According to Ms Fullick, services have to be made more efficient and community aspirations raised. She told heads of schools and colleges: "It is clear there is going to be little new money for education and training in the future.

"This means we need to reconfigure the money we are now spending, to collaborate to provide value to the whole that is greater than the sum of the parts and in order to develop innovative projects to show central government and Europe that the money will be spent well in our area."

The borough's test results at all the key stages are below the national average.

At age seven, 73 per cent of pupils are at their expected level in English, compared with the national average of 78 per cent; at age 11, 45 per cent are at their expected level in English, national average 57 per cent. The gap widens at 14, with 37 per cent at their expected level, compared with a national average of 57 per cent.

Almost half of all secondary age children in Islington are educated in schools outside the borough, the most famous being Euan Blair, the eldest son of the Labour leader.

As for priorities, Ms Fullick promotes the Blair strategy of education, education and education.

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