By Daniel Hunter
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has unveiled ambitious plans to drive up standards in education, including securing new sites for more free schools to be set up in the capital, the establishment of a new fund to boost excellence in teaching, and the creation of a new London Curriculum aimed at inspiring young Londoners to develop deeper learning in their fields of study.
With uncertainty about the economy continuing and increasing international competition for jobs and investment, the Mayor is committed to ensuring young Londoners preparing for work or higher education are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to compete with the most talented people from around the world and contribute to our future prosperity.
As London's population grows, there is increasing pressure on school places — 90,000 more are needed by 2016. At the same time there is rising demand for youngsters to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as modern foreign languages.
The Mayor's plans include:
- Setting up a unit called New Schools for London, to identify new sites for free school groups. Working closely with the boroughs and Department for Education, the Mayor wants to be able to utilise land and some of the property portfolio owned by the Greater London Authority.
- The establishment of a new London Schools Excellence Fund, to promote teaching excellence and help tackle underperformance, particularly in literacy and numeracy, science, technology, engineering and maths. The DfE has said it will support this Fund in principle, subject to further detailed discussion about design and objectives.
- A London Curriculum for lower-secondary schoolchildren, using the city itself as an educational tool, through its rich history, role on the national and international stage and its unparalleled cultural assets, to the benefit of all young Londoners.
- The creation of the Gold Club, an annual scheme to identify and celebrate schools that are achieving greatest success, including amongst the most disadvantaged pupils, and share their practice more widely.
"Every single London child deserves a good education. Though many schools and teachers are doing a sterling job, it is a tragedy that so many of our youngsters are leaving school without the skills they need to get on in life," the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said.
"With 90,000 more high quality school places needed by 2016 and employers and universities demanding high calibre people with the relevant abilities and qualifications to compete at a global level, we need cutting edge ideas to make London a world leader in education by 2020.
"I want our youngsters to aspire to the highest echelons and be inspired to be the best they can be. That's why I will use the resources available to us to enable more free schools to be built across the capital. We should also maximise the potential of London's cultural and historical assets to strengthen the curriculum in our schools.
"I'm also working with the DfE and the private sector to establish a new London Schools Excellence Fund to boost the teaching of literacy and numeracy, as well as STEM subjects and foreign languages, and prepare our schoolchildren so they are better able to compete with global talent for university places and for the high skill jobs being created by the London economy."
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