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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 15:38 GMT
Labour: Education policies
Find out more about the Labour Party's education policies.
Education is a matter devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies - and Westminster MPs have little influence over education policy in these parts of the United Kingdom. For more information see our full guide to devolution.
SECONDARY SCHOOLS: ADMISSIONS/SELECTION
Labour says that it wants to defend the principle of the non-selective comprehensive system, while reforming how it is put into practice.
It has laid out plans for much greater diversity within the state secondary school system, with the introduction of different types of school.
In the words of the prime minister's official spokesperson this would end the era of the "bog standard" comprehensive.
Almost half of secondary schools will become "specialists", which will encourage excellence and allow a small degree of selection. But the Labour party insists that it is still committed to a broadly non-selective education policy.
In terms of how it would tackle the bottleneck of too many parents chasing too few places in good schools, the Labour party has plans to tackle underachieving schools, particularly in the inner cities.
It says that if successful, this would reduce the number of schools to which parents would not want their children to attend.
SPENDING ON SCHOOLS
Labour promises to increase the proportion of the national income spent on education. In 2000 it pledged to increase spending on education by more than 5% each year for three years.
A recent feature of Labour policy has been to give money directly to schools - or at least, for schools to spend as they wish.
Labour is also putting pressure on LEAs to delegate 85% of their education budgets to schools by 2001-2 and 90% by 2002-3.
The party says it would be prepared to introduce a legal requirement to this effect if LEAs do not comply.
The party proposes to introduce greater "transparency" in the funding process, so parents know how much of the money intended for schools is actually passed on to them by the education authorities.
At the last election, Labour swept to power on the catchphrase "education, education, education".
The party believes access to higher education for those from "non-traditional backgrounds" - where there is no family tradition of going to university - is essential.
It hit out at the UK's leading universities after state school pupil, Laura Spence, failed to get a place at Oxford.
It has pledged to pump millions of pounds into the "Excellence Challenge", where universities are encouraged to reach out to youngsters from socially deprived areas.
In November 1998, the Labour government introduced annual tuition fees - currently £1,050 and set to rise to £1,075 next year - for students whose family income is above a certain threshold.
David Blunkett, Labour's education secretary since taking power in 1997, pledged to bar "top-up fees" where some universities would charge students more for tuition, for the lifetime of the next parliament.
TEACHER SHORTAGES AND PAY
Labour says there are more teachers than two years ago and, for the first time for eight years, there is an increase in the recruitment of student teachers.
This has been achieved, they say, with a package of cash bonuses and training salaries which are intended to attract students into teaching.
The party says that its current and continuing recruitment programme will lead to 10,000 more teachers in the profession.
In terms of rewarding and retaining existing teachers, the Labour government has raised pay above inflation and has introduced a higher rate of performance pay for the most able teachers.
In an attempt to raise morale, a professional regulatory body for teaching has been established, the General Teaching Council, with which all teachers will be required to register.
CLASS SIZES AND EXCLUSIONS
Labour promised to reduce class sizes for five, six and seven year olds to no more than 30 pupils.
It was so confident of success it revised the deadline from September 2002 to 2001.
Labour is on track to realise this pledge, with only 36,000 children in classes of more than 30 in January 2001, compared with 485,000 in 1998.
But in secondary schools class sizes are rising.
The Labour party wants schools to reduce their exclusions by one third by 2002.
Their success in reducing exclusions is monitored - putting the pressure on schools to keep disruptive children in school.
Schools in inner-cities are encouraged to set up Learning Support Units so that unruly pupils are removed from class rather than excluded.
And by 2002, local education authorities must provide suitable full-time education for all excluded pupils.
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