Labour supports nursery schools

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Indy Politics
NURSERY education for all three and four year olds within five years of taking office, pupil assessment and information for parents to judge schools are at the heart of a Labour 'white paper' on education sent to the party's joint policy committee yesterday.

The paper, due to be presented for approval by the ruling National Executive Committee tomorrow, leaves in doubt the future of grant maintained schools with a proposal to to place them within a local democratic framework.

But in line with recent pledges by Tony Blair, the Labour leadership front-runner, the principles of parental choice and testing, along with the idea behind performance league tables, will not be swept away.

The paper, drawn up by Ann Taylor, shadow education secretary, emphasises the twin themes of communities and local authorities working to together to produce high quality education, and the need to strive for excellence.

The nursery schooling pledge is uncosted but independent experts have put the cost at about pounds 900m a year.

'Simplistic' league tables are rejected, but Labour would set up an inquiry into the best way of measuring school performance.

'Over-burdensome and educationally flawed' testing would be replaced with assessment procedures that inspire the confidence of teachers and parents, the paper promises. The assisted places scheme would be abolished.