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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 17:31 GMT
Labour offers tailor-made tuition
Ruth Kelly and Tony Blair with school children
Tony Blair is vowing to put 'parent power' at the heart of schools
Plans to offer children tailor-made teaching packages have been unveiled by the Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly.

Their five-year education plan says pupils will have some lessons in small groups suited to their abilities.

Mr Blair also repeated a pledge to put "parent power" at the heart of schools if Labour won a third term.

But the Tories said Labour was not offering choice and the Lib Dems said "parent power" was being stripped away.

Labour's proposals for schools were set out in the first of series of election campaign policy documents on a range of subjects.

Education was, is, and will remain, our number one priority
Tony Blair

Party officials say the extra tuition pledge is part of a plan to recast schools as centres of learning based around pupils' needs.

The government wants a system where parents and pupils draw up an agreement with teachers and the school the way their needs will be tackled.

This could be improving on weaknesses or ensuring talented children are more stretched in extra classes involving one-to-one teaching, tuition in small groups or in after-school clubs.

The document also points to what Labour regards as its education successes, including an extra 28,500 more teachers and 105,000 more classroom assistants since 1997.

Labour talk about choice but they simply don't deliver it
Tim Collins
Shadow education secretary

Earlier, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly told BBC News that "freeing up the curriculum" would help enable the changes.

"For the first time there will be space within the school day to provide this extra support.

"We think that the national curriculum can be delivered in about 50% of school time for 11-14 year olds."

At the policy launch in London, Mr Blair said: "Step by step we are putting parent power at the heart of the education system, giving all parents, not just a minority as in the past, the choice and opportunities needed for their children to succeed.

He told journalists: "Education was, is, and will remain, our number one priority.

"A good education system, developing the talents of every pupil, is one built around parent preferences and meeting those individual requirements school by school."

'Stripping power'

Shadow education secretary Tim Collins told BBC News: "Labour talk about choice but they simply don't deliver it.

"They don't believe in letting successful schools expand unless they have the permission of local councils. We think they should be able to do it automatically."

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: "On the one hand they are actually wanting to involve parents more, on the other they stripping away all parent power from governors, certainly from academies and foundation schools, where the real power is to influence what the school does."

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said teachers were already overworked.

"The idea of actually having smaller groups, more tailored curriculum to individual pupils, more one-to-one teaching does entail more staff, more resources and more space within schools."

Tony Blair said the cost of providing the tailored lessons would have to be met from school budgets.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
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SEE ALSO:
Education changes "cost" warning
03 Mar 05 |  Education


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