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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
Blair's manifesto promise for schools
Tony Blair
Tony Blair promised the "transformation" of secondary education
Education spending will continue to increase if the government wins a second term, said the Prime Minister Tony Blair, reiterating his commitment to education as an election priority.

"Line one of the contract in the next manifesto will be a promise to increase the share of our national wealth spent on education in the next parliament," Mr Blair told the Labour Party's annual conference in Brighton.

Blair's education pledges
First line in next manifesto
710m 'new' money for IT in schools
Extra 200 specialist schools
By 2004, more than one in four secondary schools will have specialist status
Five pupils per computer in secondary schools by 2004
Eight pupils per computer in primary schools by 2004
75% of 14 year olds computer literate by 2004
And repeating his rallying call from the last general election - in preparation for the next, Mr Blair promised that his "government's passion" would be "education, education and education. Then, now and in the future."

In a speech outlining the next steps of the government, Mr Blair announced a further investment of 710m in new technology.

And he announced that the specialist school scheme - in which schools specialise in sports, arts, modern languages or technology - would be extended from 800 to 1,000 schools, at an extra cost of 28m.

This will mean, if the present government continues into a second term, that by 2004 more than a quarter of all secondary schools in England will have been given specialist status.

By 2004, the prime minister promised that there would be one computer for every five pupils in secondary schools - an advance on a ratio of nine pupils per computer in 1998.

And in primary schools, the prime minister said there would eight pupils per computer - an increase on the ratio of 18 pupils per computer two years ago.

There was also a new target announced to improve computer literacy in secondary schools - with the pledge that by 2004 there would be 75% of pupils with basic computer skills.

There will also be extra backing for the National Grid for Learning, which will be supported in 2002-2004 with an additional 710m.

'Learn and earn' society

Mr Blair also committed the government to a "transformation" of secondary schools.

This would mean more specialist schools, an increase in access to computers, catch-up lessons for 11 to 12 year olds and an overhaul of further education, said Mr Blair.

And arguing for a "learn and earn" society, he said the government was turning around a legacy of underfunding in education.

"For 18 years Britain suffered chronic under-investment in our public services. It held people back - it reduced opportunity," said Mr Blair.

"How could we reach a Britain where everyone can succeed when in May 1997, half, literally half of all 11-year-olds failed their basic tests?"

There was also a promise of extra money for sport in schools, which Mr Blair said would mean benefits in education and health as well as nurturing the national sports teams of the future.

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See also:

20 Jan 00 | Education
Specialist schools push ahead
28 Feb 00 | Education
Sport 'squeezed out of schools'
26 Sep 00 | Labour
Blair pledges to make amends
26 Sep 00 | Education
School sport's golden goal
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