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If I ruled the world . . .

What should the agenda be for a new secretary of state for education when he or she takes office in May? Nicolas Barnard asked some of Britain's movers and shakers what their priorities would be

Proposals for an annual Brit-award style celebration for the teaching profession, a guarantee of one in five university places for adult entrants, and a delay in the age of school transfer until the age of 14 are among those put forward today by leading people in the education and business world.

The ideas, set out below and opposite, represent personal manifestos designed to put right some of the perceived problems facing the education system and the demands expected of it in the face of growing international competition.

They include morale and status-raising ideas such as regular sabbaticals for teachers and even an annual award ceremony for outstanding teachers.

Other suggestions include the scrapping of the Government's grandiose scheme to celebrate the millennium with a festival and exhibition on the theme of time at Greenwich, to provide funds for local programmes in the arts and civic leadership for young people.

Business leaders, while stressing the need to promote self-esteem among teachers and for adequate resources, underline the importance of competent teaching and call for greater involvement by employers in education.

A more continental exam system to replace A-levels, delaying the age of transfer to 14, more specialisation in the curriculum post-14 and a better deal for disaffected pupils are also put forward.

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