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Eton-size classes may solve inequality

RADICAL measures - such as Eton-sized classes or smaller - may be needed to combat deprived children's underachievement in struggling, inner-city schools.

Malcolm Wicks, Labour chairman of the Commons education select committee, told The TES that it was too soon to say whether "excellent measures" on social inclusion and education would make a big enough difference.

If they did not, radical solutions would have to be considered - such as pupil-teacher ratios of six-to-one in struggling schools and heavy investment in families to support their educational role.

"By the year 2030, my vision is you could look at a (pupil's) housing estate, postcode and parental occupation, and discover that it gave you no clue whatsoever as to educational outcome and achievement," he told a question time session at the Royal Society of Arts.

"We have to ask serious questions about what it will really take to improve education in our inner-city schools."

Afterwards, he continued to stress that education is crucial in the battle against inequality. "The test is not whether in X years' time some of those schools have gone up 10 percentage points in their national tests or GCSEs because that's small beer," he said.

"The test is whether we have in place the policies and practices to create schools that will be good enough for any of us to send our children with confidence."

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