Headlines: January 29th, 2002

Conservative shadow education secretary Damian Green returning from a fact-finding visit to Germany has made it clear that his party’s education policy will be changed radically. When the policy proposals are published it will be clear that they relate closely to the party leader’s shift of priority from tax cuts to protecting public services.Greater autonomy for head teachers and teacher training are areas being examined closely. Giving heads greater freedom would allow them to mould schools more closely to the needs of the children, rather than following a prescribed pattern. A proposal is also being examined to set up a Royal College of Teaching which would play a similar role to the medical royal colleges in promoting good practice and supporting research.

A shift in policy that has already taken place is a marked change in the relationship with the teaching unions. The hostility that characterized the relationship prior to the last election has been replaced by a spirit of co-operation. Damian Green was accompanied on his visit to Germany by the assistant secretary of the National Union of Teachers.