Mayor unveils ambitious plans to make London world leader in education

19 October 2012

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson today unveiled ambitious plans to drive up standards in education, including securing new sites for more free schools to be set up in the capital, the establishment of a new fund to boost excellence in teaching, and the creation of a new 'London Curriculum' aimed at inspiring young Londoners to develop deeper learning in their fields of study.

With uncertainty about the economy continuing and increasing international competition for jobs and investment, the Mayor is committed to ensuring young Londoners preparing for work or higher education are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to compete with the most talented people from around the world and contribute to our future prosperity.

As London's population grows, there is increasing pressure on school places – 90,000 more are needed by 2016. At the same time there is rising demand for youngsters to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as modern foreign languages.The Mayor's plans include:

  • Setting up a unit called New Schools for London, to identify new sites for free school groups. Working closely with the boroughs and Department for Education, the Mayor wants to be able to utilise land and some of the property portfolio owned by the Greater London Authority.
  • The establishment of a new London Schools Excellence Fund, to promote teaching excellence and help tackle underperformance, particularly in literacy and numeracy, science, technology, engineering and maths. The DfE has said it will support this Fund in principle, subject to further detailed discussion about design and objectives.
  • A London Curriculum for lower-secondary schoolchildren, using the city itself as an educational tool, through its rich history, role on the national and international stage and its unparalleled cultural assets, to the benefit of all young Londoners.
  • The creation of the Gold Club, an annual scheme to identify and celebrate schools that are achieving greatest success, including amongst the most disadvantaged pupils, and share their practice more widely.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Every single London child deserves a good education. Though many schools and teachers are doing a sterling job, it is a tragedy that so many of our youngsters are leaving school without the skills they need to get on in life. With 90,000 more high quality school places needed by 2016 and employers and universities demanding high calibre people with the relevant abilities and qualifications to compete at a global level, we need cutting edge ideas to make London a world leader in education by 2020.

'I want our youngsters to aspire to the highest echelons and be inspired to be the best they can be. That's why I will use the resources available to us to enable more free schools to be built across the capital. We should also maximise the potential of London's cultural and historical assets to strengthen the curriculum in our schools. I'm also working with the DfE and the private sector to establish a new London Schools Excellence Fund to boost the teaching of literacy and numeracy, as well as STEM subjects and foreign languages, and prepare our schoolchildren so they are better able to compete with global talent for university places and for the high skill jobs being created by the London economy.'

Today's announcement coincides with the publication of the final report from the Education Inquiry, which the Mayor commissioned to look at the challenges facing London's schools.

The Mayor is launching the report today at Pimlico Academy, which has recently secured the go ahead for a new primary free school to be built.Chaired by the education commentator, former teacher and CEO of Generating Genius, Dr Tony Sewell, the Mayor's Education Inquiry panel has consulted widely over the past year to build a comprehensive analysis of education in the capital, as well as making a number of recommendations to promote excellent teaching in all London schools.

Dr Tony Sewell said: 'For London, this report is historic. It now demands from London schools an agenda that is more than just attaining the basics; we want to stretch and challenge our children to achieve excellence. We want our students to be academic winners. The big idea is that our children will leave each stage of schooling bursting with knowledge. This is an education blueprint, for a generation to meet the social, cultural and economic demands of a world leading capital.'

The Mayor will now work with partners, including schools and teachers, parent groups, the boroughs and the Department for Education to take forward twelve recommendations outlined in the Education Inquiry's final report.

Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, said: 'Although London outperforms the rest of the country this timely report provides clear evidence that more needs to be done to make our system truly world class. We want all schoolchildren across the capital to have an education that is rigorous and challenging, regardless of their background. The current reforms create an unprecedented opportunity for our best school leaders to innovate, improve and learn from each other. We want to build on this momentum in London and will take forward the recommendations in the report to develop a plan of action with our partners.'

Education Secretary, Michael Gove said: ‘I know the Mayor is incredibly ambitious for London’s children and wants to ensure all schools reach the high standards set by the best. I look forward to working with him to provide greater challenge and rigour, improve performance and generate innovative practice - and to seeing what lessons London can teach the country as a whole.’


Notes to editors

1. The Mayor launched the Education Inquiry in November 2011, as an independent investigation into the successes and challenges for London schools. Chaired by the education commentator, former teacher and CEO of Generating Genius, Dr Tony Sewell, the inquiry has consulted widely over the past year to build a comprehensive analysis of education in the capital, as well as making a number of recommendations to promote excellent teaching in all London schools; prepare young Londoners for life and work; and ensure every London child can be given a good school place.

2. The independent Chair and Panel Members of the Mayor's Education Inquiry are: Dr. Tony Sewell (Chair) – Chief Executive, Generating Genius; Joan Deslandes - Head Teacher, Kingsford Community School; Barbara Harrison - International Education Consultant; Professor Dennis Hayes - Professor of Education, University of Derby; Anthony Little - Head Master, Eton College; Robert McCulloch-Graham - Director of Children's Services, London Borough of Barnet, and Association of London Directors of Children’s Services (ALDCS); Greg Martin - Executive Head, Durand Academy; Munira Mirza – Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture; Erica Pienaar - Executive Head Teacher, Leathersellers' Federation of Schools; Laraine Smith OBE - Principal and Chief Executive, Uxbridge College; Frankie Sulke - Director of Children's Services, London Borough of Lewisham, ALDCS.

3. The report builds on a range of education initiatives introduced by the Mayor to boost attainment and opportunities amongst young Londoners. These include sponsoring three academies, with new ones under development; a £10 million youth programme co-funded by the European Social Fund, which targets young people aged 14-17, to help them into education, employment and training; and the apprenticeship scheme, which is expected to achieve 100,000 starts by December. For more information about what the Mayor is doing to raise aspiration and attainment and improve opportunities for young Londoners go to