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Schools minister Robin Squire moved to reassure heads of primary schools that they are not the poor relation in the...
Schools minister Robin Squire moved to reassure heads of primary schools that they are not the poor relation in the grant-maintained movement.

Speaking at the GM Primary and Middle Schools Support Group conference in Stratford on Avon today, Mr Squire said: 'The government's intentions are that the administration, funding and promotion of the GM sector should address the particular needs of schools of all kinds - primary, secondary and special.

'There will be no second-class citizens in the nation of GM schools.

'There is no point denying that, until quite recently, the GM sector had a largely secondary flavour. That was inevitable. Until three years ago there were no GM primary schools at all, and as little as 18 months ago only one GM school in five was primary.

'But primary GM school numbers have since grown very rapidly. The number has quadrupled since April 1993. Primary schools now make up 40% of the GM school total and there is little doubt in my mind that the primary share will soon be well over half,' he said.

'You do not need to be a large secondary school with a large budget to benefit from autonomy. You are living proof that, given full control of their own budgets, primary and middle schools can also achieve better value for money by targeting resources to where they are needed.

'And, more important, the sense of being in control of your own destiny is not a function of size. The largest GM school is 100 times larger than the smallest but this sense of freedom applies to them all.

'I want more primary and middle schools to experience that freedom, and that means persuading heads, governors and parents of the benefits of GM status. We should not be deterred by the sheer number of LEA primary schools - over 18,000,' he said

'The sector will undoubtedly become larger and even more diverse. But its rate of growth will continue to depend on decisions at individual schools. There is tremendous scope for expansion in the primary sector but we must make sure positive messages get across.

'Schools, like individuals, will seek greater freedom and they will succeed,' he said.

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