UK & World News
Michael Gove Pledges 10-Hour School Days
State schools should operate 10-hour days to boost standards so they are indistinguishable from private schools, the Education Secretary has said.
Children should also sit private school-style Common Entrance exams at the age of 13 to make sure that they are "on track for later success".
Delivering a keynote speech at the London Academy of Excellence, Michael Gove said he wanted the country's schools to be among the best in the world and that the "Berlin Wall" between state and private schools must be torn down.
He also said teachers should be willing to use disciplinary measures such as detentions, line-writing and litter-picking to combat poor behaviour.
Hailing the achievements of academies and free schools, which are already able to run longer school days, Mr Gove said he would be providing resources to allow all state schools to extend the day.
He said school plays, sports clubs, orchestras and debating competitions helped to "build character and instil grit".
Announcing the Conservative manifesto pledge, he said: "So a future Conservative Government would help state schools - just like independent schools - to offer a school day 9 or 10 hours long - allowing time for structured homework sessions, prep, which will be particularly helpful for those children who come from homes where it's difficult to secure the peace and quiet necessary for hard study."
Mr Gove encouraged more testing of children after Labour dropped key stage three testing at 14, saying that along with the national curriculum tests at age 11, children should sit exams at 13.
The Education Secretary, who is currently embroiled in a growing row over his decision to remove the chairman of Ofsted, suggested state schools should adopt the Common Entrance test papers.
He also encouraged them use the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests to check pupils' progress against international peers.
The Pisa tests last year revealed that UK students were lagging behind their counterparts across the globe.
Mr Gove said: "I want to see state schools in England the best in the world.
"State schools where the vast majority of pupils have the grades and the skills to apply to university, if they want to; where a state pupil being accepted to Oxbridge is not a cause for celebration, but a matter of course; where it is the norm for state pupils to enjoy brilliant extra-curricular activities like sports, orchestras, cadets, choir, drama, debating, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, and more.
"All those things are par for the course in the private sector - why shouldn't children in the state sector enjoy them?
"We know England's private schools are the best independent schools in the world.
"Why shouldn't our state schools be the best state schools in the world?
"My ambition for our education system is simple - when you visit a school in England standards are so high all round that you should not be able to tell whether it's in the state sector or a fee paying independent."
Mr Gove has been accused of "politicising" education after it was announced Labour peer Baroness Morgan of Huyton would not be asked to stay on for a second three-year term at the helm of the school inspections watchdog.
It has led to claims he is trying to surround himself with "yes men" and Tory sympathisers as it was suggested he is looking to fill the role with the Conservative donor and private equity boss Theodore Agnew.
Mr Gove, who appointed former Tony Blair adviser Lady Morgan, did little to dispel the rumours in an interview on Sunday in which he said he would not rule anyone out on the basis of their political allegiance.
:: Watch Sky News live on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.