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Tories launch strategy for new year

CONSERVATIVE leader Iain Duncan Smith will next week accuse the Government of failing teachers, parents and pupils in primary schools and call for a new emphasis on helping underperforming pupils.

Mr Duncan Smith will argue that schools have been failed by Labour's policies and will call for new teaching strategies, such as phonics, to help primary pupils struggling with literacy.

His visit to a Westminster primary school is expected to kick-off a New Year strategy to put education at the top of his party's agenda.

A commission, headed by former leading light in the grant maintained schools movement, Sir Robert Balchin, will spend the next two years producing a series of reports on key areas of education policy.

Pupil discipline and teacher recruitment and retention will be two of the first issues to be tackled, along with the funding of further and higher education.

The 10-member commission will be made up of current and former practitioners from schools, colleges and universities. It includes Brian Sherratt, head of Great Barr school in Birmingham, and Dr Andrew Povey, Conservative chair of education in Surrey.

Dr John Marks, a leading right-wing education academic who has long argued that improving exam results mask a fall in standards, will be the commission's secretary.

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