"There is absolutely no point in reducing school exclusions if what you then have is a much worse system of discipline in the school that leads to more and more pupils being excluded from participation in the education system because they cannot get their work done or because they themselves become demotivated," the Education Minister says.
"So we need to find solutions to these social objectives that also ensure that the majority of hard-working, motivated children - from whatever background they come - are able to get on and progress to the best of their ability."
On targets the Minister made it clear that he was not going to abandon the principe. Failure to measure performance in any sector or service was "an abdication of responsibility". The best targets were those people set themselves and willingly embraced.
"It comes back to the culture again. If you can get the culture in the schools right and get a willing and positive relationship from teachers right up to Government, you can have a target-establishing regime which people feel is a positive contribution to continuous improvement of the school rather than an imposition which demoralises and demeans them. The best schools are doing that."
Ministers feel that the new legislative powers, which have established national educational priorities including increased standards of attainment, but leaving the means to the end with educataion authorities' improvement plans, will give schools a greater sense of ownership of targets.