Prime Minister David Cameron praises Norwich school

David Cameron has praised Norwich's newest school during a visit to meet its staff and pupils.

The Prime Minister travelled to the city for a tour of the newly-opened Free School Norwich, in Surrey Street, where he also made a speech unveiling a raft of changes to restore discipline and high standards in education.

Mr Cameron told Free School Norwich principal Tania Sidney-Roberts: 'I have been listening to you this morning and this has been completely inspiring.

'Here we are in a completely new school and you have been open for five days and you seem to have parents that are contented, children that are learning and happy and safe. You are massively oversubscribed, with many people wanting to send their children here.

'And already the headteacher said to me she's contemplating doing it all over again.'


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In a speech focusing on education, Mr Cameron said that restoring discipline in schools is not just about giving teachers more powers to deal with unruly pupils, but 'is also about what parents do'.

He revealed that parents of truanting youngsters could face having their benefits cut, while teachers will be given new powers to search for items banned under school rules and impose same-day detentions.

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Mr Cameron said he has asked the Government's social policy review, which was announced in the wake of last month's riots, to look into whether the parents of children who constantly skip lessons should have their benefits cut.

Mr Cameron said: 'We need parents to have a real stake in the discipline of their children, to face real consequences if their children continually misbehave.

'That's why I have asked our social policy review to look into whether we should cut the benefits of those parents whose children constantly play truant.

'Yes, this would be a tough measure - but we urgently need to restore order and respect in the classroom and I don't want ideas like this to be off the table.'

As well as a crackdown on bad behaviour, Mr Cameron said he wanted to bring 'rigour' back into the classroom, by axing modules and bringing back exam papers which are sat at the end of a course, and ensuring that spelling, grammar and punctuation 'are properly taken into account when the marks are dished out'.

The speech, which was attended by both Norwich's MPs Chloe Smith and Simon Wright, also saw Mr Cameron extol the benefits of free schools - state-funded schools, set up by parents, teachers, faith groups, charities and other organisations outside of local authority control.

The Free School Norwich is one of 24 opening this month with a second wave to be announced within the next few weeks.

The school currently caters to 96 pupils aged four to eight. It will eventually take pupils up to the age of 11.

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