The Conservative Party will claim the ethical high-ground in education policy by realising the potential of children from poor homes and preventing ministers from hoarding power, according to the shadow schools secretary.
Michael Gove said education needed to follow the example of Labour's much-derided ethical foreign policy, which was launched almost immediately after the party came to power in 1997.
Writing in today's TES, he says: "In education, there is a desperate need for an ethical approach and a radical vision of change.
"Every child has a talent to be nurtured and we fail, in ethical terms, if we neglect their potential."
Mr Gove criticises the failure of all schools to offer separate physics, biology and chemistry courses at GCSE and the low number of pupils eligible for free school meals who achieve straight As at A-level.
Pupils from poor backgrounds are failing to make good enough progress and schools are not working as "engines of social mobility", he says.
"We believe that is because the Government, instead of trusting professionals and empowering parents, has preferred to centralise, constrict and bully," he writes.
"Ministers have taken a Whitehall-knows-best attitude to everything. But I think heads, teachers and parents know best."
A Conservative government, he says, would give more power to headteachers to enforce discipline, and greater freedom to teachers with a less prescriptive curriculum.
Dragon of inequality, page 35.