PM goes on education 'hard sell'

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Indy Politics

The Prime Minister will devote routine meetings with small groups of Labour MPs to briefings about the White Paper on schools, which received a lukewarm response from his backbenchers last month.

Elements designed to improve the education of children from poor families may be strengthened in an attempt to reassure Labour MPs that Mr Blair is listening to their concerns. There may be tougher rules to force schools to select pupils from all backgrounds and clearer pledges that there will be no return to selection by ability at age 11 and schools opting for independence from local authorities would not enjoy a financial advantage.

Mr Blair hopes to force the Bill through the Commons in February or March without relying on Tory votes. But MPs warned him 100 backbenchers could rebel on education - far more than the 49 who voted against the Terrorism Bill.