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19 May 2009 : Column 403WH—continued

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. We hope that local authorities would do that anyway, but, as a way for us to help them to push
19 May 2009 : Column 404WH
that agenda forward, under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, which is currently going through the other place, schools become for the first time statutory partners on the children’s trust board. The board is responsible for putting together the children and young people’s plan. The guidance that we shall consult on at the end of the year will be about defining how the relevant organisations—schools, PCTs, Jobcentre Plus, the police and the local authority—work together to deliver exactly the services in question. There will not be one individual department working in isolation, but a community of those partners working for the benefit of children.

Our forthcoming 21st-century schools White Paper will deal with making sure, through our new school report cards, that all schools are measured not just on how well they support the progress of the average child, but on how well they stretch the most gifted and talented, help those who need extra support, and collaborate with other schools in their area to drive up standards. We shall want to include parents’ views on the school report card as well, so that we have the important dimension of listening to parents.

I understand my hon. Friend’s concerns, many of which are replicated in my constituency. We are doing our utmost to ensure that everyone has the best possible chance of an excellent education. I have spoken about the challenges we face, and how we rise to the challenge. As I have said, breaking the link that my hon. Friend spoke about is everyone’s business: it is the business of all head teachers and school teachers, in all areas, and of children’s services and all sections of local government, as well as national Government. We shall all have to work together, as I have said, if we are to achieve that ambition.

Question put and agreed to.

1.55 pm

Sitting adjourned.

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