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They said it in 1996

JANUARY

"We will introduce performance tables showing 11-year-olds' test results for individual schools once the assessment arrangements are fully bedded in. " Gillian Shephard

FEBRUARY

"It seems to me that after these two sets of evidence about what primary schools are producing, we have to make sure that they are being made fully accountable and that results are transparent for all to see." Gillian Shephard

MARCH

"The comprehensive school should have focused on every pupil reaching their full potential instead of developing an unfortunate association with rigid mixed-ability teaching." David Blunkett, shadow education secretary

APRIL

"I am not at war with him. I am at one with him." Gillian Shephard, denying a rift with the chief inspector of schools.

MAY

"The Number 10 Policy Unit has become the paramilitary wing of the Conservative party, operating covertly and anonymously on a series of fronts, none of which bears any relation to the current situation." John Dunford, president of the Secondary Heads Association.

JUNE

"It split me from a girl I carried a torch for. She passed, I failed. She went to grammar school. I sent her a love letter telling her I missed her - she sent it back with the spelling mistakes corrected." John Prescott, deputy Labour leader, on the 11-plus.

JULY

"This was just a rape of innocence." Parent Chris Parlor, following the machete attack by Horret Campbell at St Luke's Primary School, Wolverhampton

AUGUST

"Standards in GCSE remain as rigorous as ever." Lord Henley, junior education minister

SEPTEMBER

"If they keep on saying in public he is a sweet little devil, we might have to release the whole dossier." Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the NASUWT, referring to Matthew Wilson, the 10-year-old at the centre of controversy in Manton junior school

OCTOBER

"Labour says its priority is education, education, education. Mine is the same, but in a different order." John Major

NOVEMBER

"League tables are a cancer on the body of education . . . they have become an illness causing irreparable harm by bringing in a huge amount of bad practice. They put pressure on schools to enter good pupils for an unnecessary number of exams. That's not education - that's cramming." Martin Stephen, High Master of Manchester Grammar School, which came top of the GCSE league tables.

DECEMBER

"This report is saying the danger is that more and more students are going to be educated for longer and longer at greater public expense to know less and less. That is the danger." Chris Woodhead, chief inspector of schools, on publication of Standards over Time.

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