This Green Paper from the Department of Education and Employment principally focuses on secondary education, set in the context of fewer than half 16 year old pupils achieving five or more good GCSEs and only six in 10 statutory tests for 14 year olds being of an acceptable standard in English, mathematics and science. A good secondary education should be designed to ensure that every secondary age pupil is competent in the basics of literacy, numeracy and ICT (information and communications technology) and experiences a broad curriculum beyond this core. The government seeks, over the next five years to: enhance the diversity of secondary education, with every school having a distinctive ethos and contributing to the community or to the wider education system; ensure higher performance in early years, including demanding targets in national tests at age 14; focus on the individual talents and aspirations of pupils, with more vocational and work-based avenues for development; increase support to schools facing particular problems; narrow achievement gaps that exist between ethnic minority, geographical area and gender; and promote "education with character", helping pupils become active citizens of their school and community. Support for these aims will necessitate a continuing investment in the teaching profession, in the training of teachers, expanding professional development opportunities, reducing bureaucracy, and increasing performance pay rewards. The government also outlines further proposals for nursery and preschool education, and for primary schools, with emphasis on access, availability and standards in the former, and the achievement of sound foundations in the basics in the latter. To achieve the many targets outlined, the government proposes to increase funding. The spending plans for 2001-04 include over #10.2 billion more by 2003/04 on education and training than in 2000/01, a #7.8 billion capital programme over the three years, increased spending per pupil, and increased direct grants to schools for boosting standards in classrooms.
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