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Shadow education secretary Theresa May
unveils the Conservative Party's education proposals
 real 56k

Saturday, 19 May, 2001, 21:14 GMT
Tories target schools 'crisis'
William Hague with school teacher
A three point plan to tackle Britain's education "crisis" has been unveiled by the Tories.

It focuses on cutting bureaucracy, matching Labour's planned education spending and increasing powers for head teachers.


While Tony Blair talks about education, education, education... I say discipline, standards, choice

William Hague
Shadow education secretary Theresa May, launching their proposals in London, said the Tories had been listening to teachers and parents.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats say Tory sums on education do not add up.

Lessons to learn

Mrs May's message to voters was: "We won't take away your teachers, we won't turn teachers into form fillers and we won't leave disruptive pupils in class.

"Those are the lessons of the last four wasted years under this Labour government.

"Labour have failed to deliver for parents, for teachers and children.

"The Conservative Party stands ready to deliver the education that our children deserve."

Blackboard launch

Mrs May launched the Tory education proposals in front of three blackboards designed to hammer home the key messages.

She accused Labour of plunging schools into crisis with 10,000 teacher vacancies, closed classrooms, children being sent home and class sizes of up to 94 in some areas.

To reverse the situation she pledged to end the "endless stream" of bureaucracy which forces many teachers to leave the profession.

Labour spending plans for education would be matched under a Tory government, including the funding for extra teachers promised under the comprehensive spending review.

A classroom in an English school
The classroom is a key election battleground
Head teachers would be given the right to remove disruptive or violent pupils from school without the threat of being fined.

Local authority appeals panels - which, she said, "too often overturn the decision of head teachers on exclusions" - would be abolished.

Conservative leader William Hague, speaking a short time afterwards to supporters in the north east, accused Labour of being hostile to the best schools in the country and eroding head teachers' power.

He declared: "While Tony Blair talks about education, education, education in a very vague way, I say discipline, standards, choice is what you need in education."

Cuts claims

Education continues to be an area of conflict for the main three parties.

A Lib Dem spokesman told BBC News Online: "We too wish to cut bureaucracy in schools but unlike the Conservatives we do not want to cut the education budget.

"Despite their claims, this would be the inevitable consequence of their tax cutting policies."

Labour also claims Tory sums on education do not add up.

Earlier, Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was still more to do in schools.

"We are putting in place measures in schools that will almost tailor-make the education for young people and I think that's very important.

"Every child has a talent and has an ability and the challenge of the education service is to ensure that can be fulfilled and I think we are not doing that sufficiently well at the moment."

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