Talking point

7th September 2001 at 01:00
"We are a national resource to help failing schools and we're delighted that has been recognised" - Kevin McNeany, chairman of Nord Anglia, the private firm already working in the failing London boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest

"In principle, I have no objection to more involvement of the private sector providing it remains subject to decisions made by heads and governors and is a partnership, not a takeover.It's a question of being open to new thinking while making sure what we come up with does represent best value and is 'win, win' in terms of price and quality."- Philip O'Hear, director of education in Hounslow, London

"We very much welcome the emphasis on raising standards in secondary schools. But for London, the highest priority is still recruitment and retention, because without good teachers none of the proposals will succeed." Christine Whatford, chairwoman of the Association of London Chief Education Officers

"It is very disturbing that the Government is to go ahead with its plans for more religious involvement in education. The latest scenes in the Ardoyne area of Belfast illustrate starkly how sectarian education can add to hatred and mistrust in communities. Although the same situation is much rarer in England, we had evidence from Oldham, Bradford and Burnley that a different kind of sectarianism is developing, fuelled by separate schools. We will oppose every new church school." - Keith Porteous Wood, executive director, National Secular Society

"The Church intends that its schools offer distinctively Christian education and are open and inclusive of all who seek such an education. Church of England schools are not divisive or sectarian. The overwhelming majority closely reflect their local community.

"We shall be particularly interested in the introduction of flexibility in the 14 - 19 curriculum, to ensure that the place of religious education and spiritual development is not eroded." - Canon John Hall, general secretary of the Church of England board of education

"I'm unconvinced of the merits of having league tables at the age of 14. I can't see their immediate benefits to the system but welcome the opportunity of greater flexibility at Key Stage 4." - William Atkinson, head of Phoenix high in Hammersmith and Fulham, London

"We doubt if publishing test results for 14 year olds will help either teachers or parents. There is already more performance information published about schools in England than anywhere else in the world, but it is debatable whether, in reality this increases choice for the majority of parents." - Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers

"We are delighted that governing bodies of failing schools won't be taken over by companies. But we need some more information on what it would mean if education authorities are forced to work with private partners in failing schools." - Chris Gale, chair of the National Governors' Council Karen Thornton and Melanie Tringham

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