UPDATE: It seems I was far too kind on our visionary PM. It seems there were many earlier examples of this same policy announcement...
In 1995, David Blunkett, Labour’s education spokesman, said: 'A school identified as failing would be closed and a new school would be reopened on the same site for a new school year. The new school, with a new governing body, new teachers and a new head teacher, would be able to offer pupils a fresh chance for success.’ (The Times, 12 April 1995).
The Labour manifesto in 1997 stated: ‘All Local Education Authorities (LEAs) must demonstrate that every school is improving. For those failing schools unable to improve, ministers will order a 'fresh start' - close the school and start afresh on the same site.’
In 1998 it was announced ‘Schools are to be given a maximum of two years to turn around poor performance under proposals announced by the UK Government. Those which fail to improve sufficiently face closure. They would then either re-open under a new headteacher and governors or remain shut for good, with their pupils transferred to better performing schools’ Education Secretary David Blunkett said: ‘Persistent delay in improvement damages the life chances of the youngsters involved…The new procedures will provide both clarity and certainty for schools whilst making clear that we cannot tolerate consistent failure’ (BBC News online, 2 June 1998).
In 2000, Education Secretary Estelle Morris said: ‘The Government’s approach to tackling failing schools is clearly working for most schools… It is crucial that local education authorities take tough decisions on failing schools.’ (DFEE Press Release, 1 December 2000).
In March 2000, the Government announced ‘in future, where schools over three consecutive years failed to get 5 good GCSE passes for at least 15 per cent of their pupils, they would be considered for a Fresh Start.’ David Blunkett added: ‘Our Fresh Start policy - the closure of a school and the replacement with a new school - is already being used by LEAs to tackle failing schools and is beginning to have an impact.’ (DFEE Press Release 15 March 2000).