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1992 - Press Release - Prime Minister’s Comments on Education

Below is the text of the Conservative Party Press Release on Mr Major’s education policy. It was issued on Tuesday 17th March 1992, reference 442/92.


39 STEPS TO HIGHER STANDARDS

“When I became Prime Minister, I promised to put education at the top of my personal agenda,” said the Rt Hon John Major (Huntingdon), the Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, at a press conference at Conservative Central Office today.

“Let me remind you why.

Nothing is more important than education to ensure that all our young people have the opportunities they deserve.

And nothing angered me more than the damage socialist dogma did to some of our schools:

- undermining good teachers;

- downgrading the three 'Rs';

- making children all learn at the same speed;

- resisting tests that might show how little had been learnt;

- refusing to give parents information, in case they asked awkward questions.

The people who did the damage weren't the ones to suffer. It was school children who suffered - teenagers who had learnt so little at school that they couldn't even fill in a job application or count their change in the shops.

We've changed a lot in our schools already:

- we now have a National Curriculum;

- we have nationwide tests, so we can discover where things are going right - and where they're going wrong;

- we're expanding opportunities in school and after school.

A lot has been happening even over the past year. And Kenneth Clarke will tell you more about our plans for the future - our 39 steps to higher standards. They amount to the most radical programme of education reform since 1944.

I'm particularly pleased that Ken and his colleagues have been bringing the worlds of school and work closer together. By encouraging technology schools, developing vocational qualifications and setting further education colleges free, they're opening up a whole new channel of opportunity for young people.

And I'm also very pleased we now have a Pay Review Body for teachers, which acknowledges their professional status.

But the job isn't done yet. Before the Parent's Charter, many parents never even received a written school report on their children.

Until we passed the Schools Act, there was no requirement for regular independent inspection of schools - or for information on how they perform.

In the future, under a Conservative government, more children will get a good grounding and worthwhile qualifications.

More schools will be able to develop their own special character. I want to see all parents, not just those who can afford to pay school fees, with a real choice of school for their children.

And more youngsters will go on learning and training after school. One young person in three will enter higher education by the year 2000.

But Labour's still fighting all our education reforms. They don't want to publish results which show how badly left-wing councils are running their schools. They would rather muddy the figures with all kinds of excuses.

They don't want schools to run their own affairs. They want to restore Town Hall control.

They don't want new kinds of school, even if parents make it very clear that they do. Labour want to destroy scores of highly successful schools.

They'd undo all the good we've done - and damage another generation of our children.

So the battlelines are clearly drawn: Conservative choice and opportunity, against socialist doctrine and dogma. To protect our children's interests, it's a battle we must win.”