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How the Manifestos measure up

ADMISSIONS

Conservatives: All schools could apply to the Education Secretary to become grammars; grant-maintained schools could become 50 per cent selective without reference to central government or parents.

Labour:Foundation schools and aided schools will be able to set their admission procedures, but will need to consult their local authority. Where there is disagreement both parties will have to abide by independent arbitration. All secondary schools will be allowed to select up to 10 per cent on aptitude.

LEAGUE TABLES

Conservatives: Four sets of national league tables based on the results of tests at seven, 11 and 14 and GCSEs at 16.

Labour: National school league tables based on GCSE results; local publication of test results of 11-year-olds.

Liberal Democrats: Pupils will get a personal record of achievement.

SCHOOL ORGANISATION

Conservatives: Schools will become legal entities with greater control of admissions and employment of teachers. Will be able to opt to own their buildings and grounds.

Labour: Three types of schools: community, foundation and aided. Foundation schools will have greater control of admissions and have two local authority appointees on governing body.

Liberal Democrats: All schools will be controlled by "light touch" local authorities.

STANDARDS

Conservatives: All schools will be required to set improvement targets in line with best results from schools in similar circumstances. Baseline assessment for five-year-olds. New test for 14-year-olds to assess all subjects in the national curriculum.

Labour: National targets for literacy and numeracy. Closure threat for failing schools. National commissions on literacy and numeracy. Creation of education action areas.

NURSERY EDUCATION

Conservatives: Nursery vouchers worth Pounds 1,100 for parents of all four-year-olds to spend on state or private nursery education.

Labour: Nursery education for four-year-olds, to be extended when resources allow to three-year-olds. Pilot centres of excellence that combine day care and nursery education.

Liberal Democrats: Nursery education for three and four-year-olds.

SPENDING

Conservatives: No spending figures for the education share of local authority funds.

Labour: Tied to Conservative spending limits. A promise to review the Government's method of calculating grant to local authorities - would mean winners and losers. The proportion of national income to be spent on education will increase over a five-year term of government.

Liberal Democrats: Pounds 2 billion annual programme of extra investment in schools.

FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Conservatives: Revamp national vocational qualifications; issue learning credits for all 16 to 21-year-olds to buy their education and training; trigger a new phase of expansion for adult education by encouraging collaborative projects between colleges and industry.

Labour: Kick-start new expansion phase for FE with big share of Pounds 3-5 billion windfall tax on privatised utilities; review staffing and create qualified lecturer status for all; take 250,000 unemployed off the dole through Welfare to Work programme; set up University for Industry to commission distance-learning courses for the home; introduce new unified qualifications system.

Liberal Democrats: Bring all post-16 agencies closer together under new regional planning; give further and higher education a Pounds 1.7 billion share of penny-in-pound tax over three years; impose 2 per cent remissible training levy on employers; introduce new unified qualifications system.

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