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Islington Tribune - by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 6 February 2009

Nick Clegg shares a lesson with children at New North Community School
‘There’ll be statues erected to James Kempton in the future’

Lib Dem leader uses borough visit to praise councillor and outline schools plan

STATUES should be erected in tribute to council leader James Kempton, the party’s national leader Nick Clegg told the Tribune yesterday (Thursday).
Mr Clegg praised Cllr Kempton for his contribution to a massive overhaul in Liberal Democrat education policy, at the launch of the party’s national education strategy at New North Community School, in Popham Road.
Mr Clegg toured the school, taking part in a phonetics class and spending time with headteacher Mary McStay.
Cllr Kempton, who chaired the committee that formed the new policy, helped write the report, which was described by Mr Clegg as the “biggest review of our education policies in the last decade”.
The document hinges on two key policies: halving infant classroom sizes – paid for by scrapping Gordon Brown’s scheme to give £250 to every 18-year-old – and ending “the scandal of poor but bright children being overtaken by the age of six or seven by less bright, wealthier children”, by giving extra financing to children from the most deprived backgrounds.
Singling out Cllr Kempton, who used to be a teacher, Mr Clegg said: “Statues will be chiselled and erected to James in decades to come because James has done a phenomenal job. Ever since we campaigned for 1p extra on income tax all those years ago to go directly to education we’ve always been known as a party that believes in the ­power of education to liberate children, to give children the life chances they need.”
Mr Clegg also dismissed moves by Islington’s Labour Party to give free school meals to every primary school in the borough, adding: “For me the priority is the pupil premium, giving the same individual allocation of money to children from the most deprived backgrounds as the children who go to fee-paying schools.”
Cllr Kempton said: “We believe in freeing schools to do things properly. It will be up to them how they want to spend that money.
“Primary schools may want to pay teachers more, secondary schools may be want to fund after-school clubs.
“In Islington, one of the things the teachers say is that they are fed up of being told what to do from Whitehall. They want to be trusted.”
Cllr Kempton said the ­document also recommended slimming down the national curriculum from about 600 pages to about 20, adding: “We believe that trying to ­prescribe more and more from the centre is running things into the sand.
“One of the first acts of ­parliament we’d like to introduce would be an education freedom act. We’ll also bring in a new educational standards authority.”

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