Parties squabble over school blame

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The Independent Online
Labour and the Conservatives battled yesterday over the responsibility for bad schools after the publication of the first primary league tables, writes Judith Judd.

Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education, said the 10 worst- performing local education authorities were all Labour-controlled, compared with only 1 of the best 10. "Tony Blair has claimed that there is no need to be afraid of Labour. These performance tables dispel that myth."

David Blunkett, shadow Secretary of State, retorted that 51 of the top 100 primaries were either in Labour-controlled authorities or in hung councils with Labour chairmen. Just three were in Conservative-controlled councils.

Mr Blunkett blamed 18 years of government incompetence for the fact that 4 out of 10 children failed to reach the expected standard in tests for 11-year-olds in English, maths and science.

A Labour spokesman said: "Tory efforts to politicise this are ridiculous.

"Because Labour is in charge of most local authorities in the country it is logical that some of the worst and best will be run by Labour councils."

The tables cover only English primary schools.

The Welsh Office produced different tables for 11-year-olds last month which did not identify individual schools.

No tables are being published for Scotland, where parents rejected tests of this type.