Primary key to diversity

12th October 2007 at 01:00
This week the Government confirmed its spending plans for the next three years. The boom times of major investment may be over, but schools will continue to benefit from above-inflation settlements roughly in line with economic growth. Also, primaries will be given pound;200 million for refurbishment while a further pound;250m will be provided to support individual learning plans likely to include one-to-one tuition for children struggling with reading and maths.

After a feverish week in politics, these announcements were a timely reminder of the solid investment programme put in place by this Government. Having abandoned plans for an early election, Gordon Brown must start to develop his vision for education. A good place to begin is to listen to parents, pupils and teachers. Today, we report the early soundings of the independent primary review group, which reveals a striking consensus on the state of education and childhood, with acute concerns about the negative effects of testing, pressure to grow up early and an upsurge of anti-social behaviour.

A true vision for education would look beyond the obsession with targets and league tables and, as Anthony Seldon says (page 27), encourage children to live life to the full. Fortunately, primary schools are good at this. As the Government strives to create diversity in the secondary sector, it should recognise the huge diversity at primary level which has not been imposed but has sprung from the communities they are rooted in. Communities value primary schools because they belong to them.

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