Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Monday, 1 February 2010

Nick Clegg says Lib Dems would help poorest children

Nick Clegg: "We need to bring down class sizes"

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has promised to scrap tax credits for better-off families and put £2.5bn into schooling for the underprivileged.

The link between poverty and low achievement was "still as bad as it was" before Labour took power, he said.

The Lib Dems would free up £1.5bn from the tax credits change and £1bn from reductions to administration costs.

He wanted to give every child "a chance to get ahead... and give every child a chance to fulfil their potential".

Mr Clegg outlined his party's general election manifesto pledges on education and childcare at Barnado's in London.

'Very radical'

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What we want, as we try and get out of this recession and rebuild a country which is fairer, is a school system that gives every single child a chance to get ahead, to live out their dreams, to fulfil their potential, irrespective of where they live, irrespective of where they were born."

The £1bn administration savings would come from "very radical" changes to quangos and inspection regimes, and scrapping the ContactPoint database, used by the childcare profession, Mr Clegg said.

He added: "One of the biggest challenges we face as a country is breaking this link between financial deprivation at home and educational underachievement in the classroom.

"It is the thing that has held our country back for generations. We haven't cracked it despite all the money that's gone in from Labour. It's still as bad as it was."

Mr Clegg said that action was needed because the poorest children were only half as likely to get five good GCSEs as other children.

He said they wanted to introduce a Pupil Premium which would go to schools for each pupil entitled to a free school meal and be worth about £2,500 extra per pupil.

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