HC Deb 05 July 2001 vol 371 cc395-6
14. Valerie Davey (Bristol, West)

What further measures the Government plans to take to raise standards in city secondary schools. [883]

The Minister for School Standards (Mr. Stephen Timms)

We are committed to transforming secondary education in this country. Through the forthcoming education Bill, we will be putting in place legislation to create a more diverse system that can provide high standards of education for all our children, and meet their individual needs in cities and in every part of the country.

Valerie Davey

I welcome my hon. Friend the Minister to his post, and thank him for his reply. In Bristol, the city council has depended on, and built on, the collaborative work of the excellence in schools initiative. However, Bristol's diverse nature has led the council to undertake a citywide review of secondary provision. Will my hon. Friend and his Department give the support and encouragement that this creative but demanding initiative requires?

Mr. Timms

We are well aware of the developments in Bristol, and are very encouraged by the steps that have been taken to achieve improvements in the way that the LEA supports its schools. We are also very heartened by the progress of Excellence in Cities in Bristol, which has been involved in that initiative since September 2000. I know that 20 secondary schools are involved. In Bristol and elsewhere, we are detecting real progress being made in dealing with some of the long-standing problems that have faced secondary schooling our cities.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his new Government position. He is one of the most courteous and caring of Ministers and I wish him well. Does he accept that one of the ways to raise standards in city secondary schools in particular would be to encourage firm discipline, because in a disciplined environment young people are much more inclined to learn and to gain the benefit of good teaching? Does he believe that discipline in city secondary schools is of the utmost importance in raising standards?

Mr. Timms

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks and agree that pupil behaviour is an important topic. We will address that in the White Paper, and we have taken some important steps to improve the position. This year, for example, we are providing £174 million to address poor behaviour in schools: 10 times the level of 1997. It is a matter that we will need to keep under close review.