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Attack on Labour's policy elite

TONY Blair's education masterplan has been dreamt up by Oxbridge and privately-educated advisors ignorant of the reality of state schools, says a leading academic.

In a chapter of his new book about Mr Blair, Professsor Alan Smithers of Liverpool University's centre for education and employment research, says education policy is controlled by an elite inner circle. Andrew Adonis, Downing Street Policy Unit education adviser is thought to be responsible for the specialist schools plan. Adonis went to Kingham Hill, a minor public school in Oxfordshire, and read history at Oxford. His book, A Class Act, accuses comprehesives of entrenching the class divide.

Unit head David Miliband went to the state Haverstock school, North London, which he fails to include in his Who's Who entry, and Oxford. Michael Barber, head of the Department for Education and Employment's standards and effectiveness unit, went to the private Bootham School, York, and Oxford, but later taught in Watford.

Professor Smithers claims state-educated David Blunkett is the mouthpiece, but many "at the heart of policy-making have not had a feel of state education from the inside."

The Blair Effect, edited by Anthony Sheldon, Little, Brown, pound;14.99

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