The huge prize within our grasp

18th June 2004 at 01:00
New relationships will define the school system of the future: relations between government and schools, school and school, and school and pupil.

The task is not easy but the prize is huge - a personalised learning system to guide and nurture the unique talents of every child.

The Prime Minister wants personalised learning with high expectations for every child based on understanding of their needs and approach to learning to be the defining feature of our schools.

The Government has taken responsibility for the detailed business of schooling since the 1944 Education Act. In the case of changes like the national curriculum, this has been positive.

But too much time spent servicing the system can leave the needs of pupils neglected. We need to strengthen lines of accountability and remove the duplication of effort that teachers and school leaders find so frustrating.

And we need to release local initiative and energy, enabling schools to focus their activity on what really matters - delivering personalised learning to each and every one of their pupils. More legal and financial flexibility should be matched by a simple way of holding schools to account for the progress they make.

Earlier this week, the chief inspector and I announced changes to the way that schools are held accountable that go a long way towards creating this new relationship. I do not pretend these are the whole story - we have at least a year of intensive work ahead of us to give practical reality to this new relationship.

There are three key aspects to the new relationship: an intelligent accountability framework, a simplified school improvement process, and better data, including a new school profile.

For schools the benefits will be a reduction in clutter and conflicting priorities that can distract from the real business of meeting pupils'

needs. For parents they offer more up-to-date and accessible information about how different schools are performing.

And above all for pupils they open up the prospect that every school will be able to provide the personalised learning they need.

David Miliband MP is school standards minister

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