Major's pledge hits raw nerve

28th April 1995 at 01:00
John Major's pledge to fight for higher standards in inner-city schools has already been undermined by his own Government's decision to abandon a scheme which improves children's' reading, say critics.

The Prime Minister hit a raw nerve with headteachers and opposition parties this week when he demanded new efforts to raise reading standards in primary schools.

He made his call during a speech on the future of inner cities to the right-wing Social Market Foundation.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I find it ironic that the Prime Minister should be talking about the importance of children being able to read properly at a time when his own ministers have abandoned the Reading Recovery scheme."

The speech by Mr Major was the first he has given on the inner cities since he became Prime Minister four and a half years ago.

He called for a drive by schools to involve parents in setting new educational targets for achievement and discipline. "How many children can read at the age of eight? Shouldn't schools know?" he asked. He promised to announce the first pilot schemes for targets "building on the Parent's Charter" later this year.

But his remarks came in for attack from Labour who accused him of stealing the Opposition's agenda. David Blunkett, education spokesman, said: "John Major has realised that we have set the agenda. Schools should set targets. That is precisely what Labour authorities like Birmingham, Lewisham and Barnsley are already doing."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today