Prime Minister David Cameron visits EDP and Evening News offices

Prime Minister David Cameron visited the offices of the EDP and the Evening News today on his visit to Norwich.

Mr Cameron was also shown around Norwich's new Free School on his visit to the city, and took the opportunity to unveil a swathe of classroom reforms.

The Prime Minister signalled that discipline, rigour and 'elitism' must prevail to mend Britain's 'broken society' and ensure future economic success.

Officially opening one of the first wave of free schools - Free School Norwich in Surrey Street - Mr Cameron outlined plans toramp up standards and bring back the values of a good education.

He also vowed to change the structure of education, allowing new providers in to start schools, and giving schools greater independence, while confronting educational failure head-on.


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Mr Cameron also visited the headquarters of the EDP and the Evening News, with journalists quizzing him about some of the key issues for this area.

Free schools are directly funded by the government but are set up by groups of parents, teachers, business groups or charities who have the freedom to make decisions about the way they are run outside of local authority control.

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The Free School Norwich aims to provide an education model which suits working families in Norfolk and caters for children as individuals.

As part of that it will be open from 8am to 5.45pm, six days a week for 51 weeks of the year and have a paid-for Squirrels Club for children outside of the usual school day, on Saturdays and during school holidays.

'We've got to be ambitious if we want to compete in the world,' Mr Cameron said in his speech, which forms part of a concerted effort to focus attention on education.

'When China is going through an educational renaissance, when India is churning out science graduates any complacency now would be fatal for our prosperity.

'And we've got to be ambitious, too, if we want to mend our broken society.

'Because education doesn't just give people the tools to make a good living - it gives them the character to live a good life, to be good citizens.'

While everyone was agreed on the desired outcome, he will complain, 'for years we've been bogged down in a great debate about how we get there.

'Standards or structures? Learning by rote or by play? Elitism or all winning prizes? These debates are over because it's clear what works.

'Discipline works. Rigour works. Freedom for schools works. Having high expectations works. Now we've got to get on with it - and we don't have any time to lose.'

Free schools - set up by parents, teachers, faith groups, charities and others outside of local authority control - have proved controversial.

Liberal Democrat activists last year voted overwhelmingly against the Tory-led policy - warning it would prove socially divisive.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg sought to ease fears last week, insisting he would not allow the schools to be run for profit and that the next wave should all be in deprived areas.

Some Conservative MPs have complained that the junior partner is exercising too much sway over keynote party policies within the power-sharing administration.

Mr Cameron will use his speech to tell them: 'A free school is born of a real passion for education - a belief in its power to change lives.

'It's a passion and a belief this coalition shares. We want to want to create an education system based on real excellence, with a complete intolerance of failure.'

The first 24 free schools are opening this month with a second wave to be announced within the next few weeks.

For more on Mr Cameron's visit, see tomorrow's papers.

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