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Power madness

When Frank Field, the former minister, wondered this week whether the Prime Minister had "swallowed Stalin" during the row over the veto of two select committee chairmen, Tony Blair's spokesman swiftly replied that his boss was committed to devolving power to the frontline in education and the health service.

Try telling that to teachers who are being told by some advisers on the Government's new secondary school numeracy strategy that they must abandon a highly successful maths scheme - David Burghes's Mathematics Enhancement Project - because it does not fit in with the programme laid down by ministers.

The danger that teachers will leave because they are tired of being told how to teach by Government diktat has never been greater. Who wants to be confined to Blair maths? The official line on the proposed revolution in secondary schools is that it will be led from the grassroots by successful teachers. But Estelle Morris will have to work hard to convince the profession that existing good practice is not to be sacrificed for the sake of conformity.

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