Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy has hit out on the Government’s track record in education, stating that standards in schools are “still woefully low”.

Leahy said Tesco, which is the largest private employer in the country, depends on high standards in schools as “today’s school children are tomorrow’s team”. He said “they will be the ones we need to help build our businesses.”

Speaking at the IGD Convention in London today, Leahy said: “Sadly, despite all the money that has been spent, standards are still woefully low in too many schools.” He said employers, like Tesco, are “often left to pick up the pieces”.

He said: “One thing that government could do is to simplify the structure of our education system. 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.”

Leahy said Tesco tries to keep paperwork to a minimum, with simple structures and instructions, and he said, “above all we trust the people on the ground”.
He added: “I am not saying that retail is like education, merely that my experience tells me that when it comes to the number of people you have in the back office, less is more.”

He said the right way for a Government to handle a recession is to help businesses create more jobs, to innovate and invest more.

“Today’s recession can best be tackled if businesses - of all sizes, from the street stall to Tesco - are not burdened with more tax and more regulation. Both spell higher costs, less investment and fewer new jobs. And that, in turn, spells less revenue to help the Treasury pay back the debt.”