Two themes emerge from the targets agreed between the Treasury and the Department for Education and Employment and published this week in a Treasury White Paper: continual improvement in standards and closing the poverty gap.
Together with goals set for health and social security, the White Paper lists 24 targets that directly affect children - out of the 160 that have been set across every government department.
It unveils new targets for results at key stages 2, 3 and 4, GCSE, and in further education.
In line with Gordon Brown's driving philosophy of widening opportunity and reducing social exclusion, it also sets targets for truancy, expulsions, access to higher education and for children who are in care.
Meanwhile, figures released by the DFEE this week show that the improvements needed to meet these targets will increasingly be driven by central not local government.
While Mr Brown has trumpeted a 5.6 per cent annual increase in education spending over the next three years, local authority spending will grow by much less, around 3 per cent a year.
Total spending per pupil will grow by pound;370 over the next three years, ministers say. But the figures make clear that much of the cash will be channelled through special grants and as capital spending, rather than through local-authority budgets.
The goals show that the Government is pursuing hard its "something for something" philosophy.
In a foreword to the White Paper, Mr Brown states baldly his firm belief in targets, saying that they "drive good performance", and crediting them for the steady improvement in key stage 2 results.
THE CHANCELLOR'S GOALS FOR CHILDREN.
Al targets by 2004, unless otherwise stated
Key stage 2:
Increase numbers getting level 4 beyond the 2002 target (figures to be agreed)
Targets for each local authority (figures to be agreed)
Key stage 3:
English, maths - 80 per cent of pupils at level 5
Science, ICT - 75 per cent at level 5
Targets for bottom 20 per cent of pupils (to be agreed)
(By 2007) English, maths, ICT - 85 per cent at level 5
(By 2007) Science - 80 per cent at level 5
More pupils to get 5 A*-Cs than in 2002
Minimum 38 per cent to get 5 A*-Cs in every local authority
Minimum 92 per cent to get 5 A*-Gs which must include English and maths
Truancy 10 per cent lower than in 2002
All pupils permanently excluded to receive full-time education
Fewer children in households where no one is in employment
Three percentage-point increase over 2002 in 19-year-olds with national vocational qualification level 2 or equivalent
Half of all 18 to-30-year-olds to be in or have passed through higher education by 2010
Significant year-on-year progress to wider access
Lower drop-out rates
Cut number of adults without basic literacy or numeracy skills by 750,000
Children in care:
Care-leavers to have education, training and employment "outcomes" at least 75 per cent of local average
At GCSE, 15 per cent of 16-year-olds to get five A*-Cs
Proportion cautioned or convicted to be closer to figure for peers
Cut by a fifth the proportion of children re-registered on child-protection registers within 12 months
Cut by 10 per cent pregnant mothers who smoke
Cut by 5 percentage points four-year-olds needing specialist help with speech and language