Education

THE BLAIR MANIFESTO
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The Independent Online
Labour would have to divert pounds 68m from private education subsidies to cut primary-class sizes to 30 or less within three years, new figures compiled for the party's manifesto document show.

The pledge to phase out the assisted places scheme and put the money into mainstream schools will eventually save more than pounds 160m per year, according to research for Labour by the National Foundation for Educational Research. This will take longer because subsi- dies will not be withdrawn from

children who already have them.

The document also promises higher standards in primary schools, with testing at five and a core curriculum for teacher training to place more emphasis on the basics - a policy announced by David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, in May and also favoured by the Government. It will also become easier under Labour to sack poor teachers.

On nursery education, the party would withdraw the voucher scheme due to be introduced nationally in April 1997 but would replace it with partnerships between the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Labour does not favour a return to the 11-plus but would not close existing grammar schools unless parents wanted them closed. Its paper talks of a comprehensive education system which caters for all children's needs through grouping by ability, broader A-levels and better vocational qualifications.

In further and higher education, students will be given loans to cover their maintenance but will not be charged fees.

In training, individuals will be able to build up credits in a "learn- as-you-earn" account which can be cashed in for courses. A "university for industry" will use computer technology to enhance skills, and all schools and libraries will be wired up to the Internet.

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