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Talking point

What changes would you like to see in education in 2004?

Margaret Morrissey, National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations:

"I'd like to see the end of Sats tests for primary children, and serious discussion about whether we really need league tables. We've lost our way, and parents aren't happy about this."

Mel Woodcock, head, North Manchester boys' high: "I'd like to see a recognition of the enormous task undertaken by heads and teachers in inner-city schools. We face challenges with recruitment and retention of staff, incidence of special needs and issues of inclusion. These challenges should be recognised through modification of the inspection regime, and additional funding embedded into the system."

Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers: "I'd like to see the development of the 14-19 curriculum. One of the big challenges in education is ensuring that young people remain motivated and committed. There needs to be a bigger connection with the world of work, so that education seems of real relevance to youngsters whose own backgrounds may not have produced that view."

Kate Connelly, 18, Year 13 pupil, Hills Road sixth-form college, Cambridge:

"I hope that top-up fees are totally defeated in government, and that there is a revolt against Tony Blair. Education needs to become more inclusive, so that it's about learning, not just meeting targets and forcing people into jobs. Pupils have something to say about education and the way the country is run, and that needs to be taken into consideration. The Government should have listened to us over the war in Iraq, and should listen to us now."

David Hart, general secretary, National Association of Head Teachers: "I'm looking forward to a funding settlement for the next two years, which will obliterate memories of this year's fiasco. I want resources to support the national workload agreement.

"And I'd like an end to the interminable arguments about testing, targets and tables, with a government recognition that there has to be radical reform. But I'd prefer to put my money on a horse than on the chances of all three happening."

Leo Smith, Year 5 and 6 teacher, Alpington and Bergh Apton CE primary, Norfolk: "I would like the funding nonsense to be resolved. In a small school, where there is not much leeway, staffing levels are the most effective way of saving money. I really like my job, but I hate what the Government does to it. It should leave us alone to do the job effectively."

Ted Wragg, emeritus professor of education, Exeter University: "Shut Ofsted down and start again with a proper inspection system. As it stands, inspectors come, frighten everyone out of their wits for a week, and then disappear. But you need follow-up and professional dialogue. We need to minimise paperwork and maximise action.

"But I think the chances of that are slim. Ofsted could go on being awful for decades, with no politician brave enough to say, let's start again."

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