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Mr. Clarke: Not at all. First, there is a difference between 10 per cent. and 100 per cent. Secondly, there is a difference between recognising aptitude in music and art in the terms described by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) and conducting 11-plus type examinations, which the hon. Gentleman wants to set for all schools. Those are fundamental differences and I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman cannot see them.
Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): My right hon. Friend spoke about establishing a framework for strong accountability and fair admissions. What will be the mechanism for strong accountability and how will the national code on admissions ensure a more balanced intake into our schools and an end to admissions by selection or by postcode?
Mr. Clarke: First, through the profile that we have set out, we will ensure that each school is directly accountable to parents in the area. Secondly, local education authorities will be accountable to the public on the strategic issues that will be the subject of a single annual review. Thirdly, I believe that there are ways of intervening to encourage schools to accept people from across the whole range of selection and to work together. I believe that will make a major difference.
Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): The right hon. Gentleman seems to have forgotten our wonderful special schools. Will he give greater encouragement and support to moderate learning difficulty schools such as Cedar Hall school in Thundersley? Inclusion is not right for all MLD children. Parents must have choice: they know best what is right for their children.
Mr. Clarke: Absolutely. We do not ignore the special schools. Indeed, we recently announced that such schools could join the specialist school programme. The key thing is to secure genuine partnerships. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has seen it happen in his own constituency, but specialist schools are working with special schools in the locality to develop stronger learning arrangements. That partnership will continue.
Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab): Of the 200 city academies, how many will be new-build and how many will be re-badged? What is the mechanism for re-badging them and who will run them in the long term?
Mr. Clarke: As each one develops, there will be a development programme, which may include rebuilding and refurbishment. As I said earlier, their objective is to attain world-class standards for the poorest communities in the country that have lacked them in the past. The decision to establish a city academy is a matter for the Secretary of State, but partnerships will be made to make that happen effectively. If my hon. Friend visited city academiesI hope that he willhe would recognise their positive impact in communities where education has been backward looking for many years.
Geraint Davies (Croydon, Central) (Lab):
The Harris city technology college in Croydon secures better academic results than any other state school, including religious schools, in the area. It allocates places on the
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basis of a representative range of abilities across the community in nine streams. Does the Secretary of State believe that it would be good to extend that practice to all state-funded schools and, if so, how would he achieve itby regulations or some other mechanism?
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): In my right hon. Friend's statement, there were two separate sentences on the roles of local authorities. He elaborated partly on that in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), but can he say how much of the traditional role of local authorities will go?
Mr. Clarke: To answer my hon. Friend candidly, the most important aspect of that traditional role to go is the ability of local authorities to take allocated money from schools. In future, such allocations will be ring-fenced. This is a significant issue for local government, as my hon. Friend's question suggests. Those authorities will be able to top up education funding by choice, if they wish, but I have clearly explained the major change. I know that it gives rise to concerns among some of my hon. Friends, but I believe that the gain from allowing schools to run three-year budgets themselves will be a massive one in respect of educational standards. That means that that change is worthwhile.
Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): There are four specialist secondary schools in my constituency, each doing extremely well. Unfortunately, the policy of the Conservative leadership of the local authority has led to a serious shortage of school places being made available. Will my right hon. Friend consider how to force incompetent local authorities to ensure that all parents have the right to get their children into school without the stress and anguish currently suffered by many of my constituents?
Mr. Hilton Dawson (Lancaster and Wyre) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has set out a dynamic and exciting vision for the future, but if we are to achieve excellence, opportunity and choice for all, do we not have to ensure that the opportunities provided for schools are rooted in the Government's commitment to end child poverty? That will assist the integration of services across the board, particularly across the crucial boundary with health.
I agree with my hon. Friend, who has campaigned on that issue for a long time. One aspect of my announcementI referred to it in my statement but it has received little attentionwas a major uplift of everything we do for under-fives in early years provision. We want education, health and social services to work together to provide a strong offer of assistance to individual parents and families. Through the
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extended school programme for primary schools, we are specifically encouraging joint work with social services and health, which I believe is the key to what I and my hon. Friend want to achieve.
Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) (Lab): I represent 20 highly deprived mining communities where there are low levels of educational attainment. Given the geographic spread of those villages, the poor infrastructure and low car ownership, is not the offer of choice of school a false prospectus? Would it not be better if the four excellent comprehensive schools were properly managed, well funded and provided a full curriculum?
Mr. Clarke: That is true, but let me add a point of view not from a mining community but from rural Norfolk, where there are a number of schools in small villages and towns that educate only up to the age of 16. There is no choice at that point, just as there is no choice in my hon. Friend's area. Those schools are banding together to see if they can jointly offer proper sixth-form provision. I believe that that is the way forward, which is why I commend our proposals for foundation groups of schools to my hon. Friend as they extend choice in a way that we both want.
Peter Bradley (The Wrekin) (Lab): If choice is to be available to all parents, it is accepted that we will need spare capacity in our school system. As has been suggested, that will arise in the less popular schools, which will lose per capita funding and risk further decline. Will the radical reform of the school system be accompanied by a radical review of school funding, so that we can ensure that all schools achieve the excellence needed to give all children real choice?
Mr. Clarke: The short answer is yes. I believe that my statement today offers the most radical change to school funding systems for decades. The commitment to three-year budgets enables us to address those questions. I acknowledge that there are issues about managing change in these circumstances, and that is why I came to the view that national funding for education should be through local authorities. They are better able to manage the process of change than the national funding agency that would have been an alternative.
Kali Mountford (Colne Valley) (Lab): In recent years, standards in all Colne valley schools have risen phenomenally, but they have risen fastest in the poorest community. That is a remarkable achievement. Moor End high school has become Moor End technical college, through the hard work of Steve Morris, the head teacher, and of Molly Walton, the chair of governors. That phenomenal change will need to go further as a result of today's announcement. Will my right hon. Friend look at how we support school governors, on whom we will rely to bring that further change about?
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