Task force line-up revealed

20th June 1997 at 01:00
Film producer Sir David Puttnam is expected to bring a touch of glamour to the Government's drive to raise standards in schools. He has been approached to join academics and teachers on the national task force on standards due to be set up in the next few days.

The director responsible for such award-winning films as Chariots of Fire,The Killing Fields and The Mission has trenchant views on the role of education as a means to the moral improvement of the community. Sir David is a Labour backer and is reported to be among the wider circle of influences on Tony Blair.

Ministers have trawled across the education world for the rest of the membership of the task force. It is expected to include David Hargreaves, professor of education and fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and a non-party political analyst, and the Scottish academic, John MacBeath, director of the Quality in Education Centre at Strathclyde University.

The task force has become controversial before its membership has been announced because of the decision by David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, to appoint as joint vice-chair men two political opposites: Chris Woodhead, chief inspector of schools, and Tim Brighouse, chief education officer for Birmingham. Mr Blunkett will personally chair the task force, which is expected to meet four times a year.

Others expected to be on the group are the chief executives of the major advisory bodies: Nick Tate, of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, and Anthea Millett, of the Teacher Training Agency. The chief education officer of Newcastle upon Tyne, David Bell, has also been approached.

Around a third of the membership is likely to come directly from schools, both practising heads and teachers. Among the heads will be: Sue Pearson, head of Lache county infants in Chester, Janet Warwick, head of a 600-pupil rural comprehensive, Rhyn Park in Shropshire, and David Winkley, head of the Grove school in Handsworth, Birmingham, and director of the National Primary Centre.

The appointment of Sir David is intended to ensure the task force can draw on his skills as a communicator and his knowledge of information technology. Sir David is patron of Life with Technology, a charity which aims to give technology a human face, and has been involved with film courses in schools.

Ministers have yet to give details of the ways in which the task force will work, but it is intended to be an evangelising body and its members will be encouraged to find ways of spreading their own experience of effective teaching. Within the profession, there is scepticism as to whether a group containing individuals with such differing views on the means to raise standards will be able to operate collectively.

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