Tesco: School standards woefully low

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Tesco chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, has said that employers are left to bear the brunt of "woefully low" standards in schools.

Speaking to a meeting of members of the grocery industry, Sir Terry Leahy said money pumped into the education system had produced no improvement.

He told the IGD Convention: "As the largest private employer in the country, we depend on high standards in our schools. As today's schoolchildren are tomorrow's team, they will be the ones we need to help build our business.

"Sadly, despite all the money that has been spent, standards are still woefully low in too many schools. Employers like us, and I suspect many of you, are often left to pick up the pieces.

"From my perspective there are too many agencies and bodies, often issuing reams of instructions to teachers, who then get distracted from the task at hand: teaching children."

At the same event. Asda's chief operating officer, Andy Clarke, also complained about the school system, saying: "No-one can deny that Britain has spawned a generation of young people who struggle to read, write or do simple maths. That's why we're finding packs of nappies discarded in the booze aisle as the last few pounds are spent on alcohol rather than childcare."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "Standards have never been higher in our secondary schools. The vast majority of people working in education are on the front line, teaching in our schools.

"We are working to lift the burden of administration tasks from teachers, freeing them up so they can concentrate on what they do best - teaching and preparing lessons."

"There are several non-departmental bodies, but it's clearly right and proper that issues such as exam standards are regulated by an independent body."

Sir Terry's views were echoed by John Cridland, director general of the CBI, who said the Tesco chief's concerns were "shared by a wide range of the business community."

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