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Labour means business

Labour is to announce plans to encourage business people to act as mentors to headteachers, advising on finance and purchasing.

Companies that actively support local schools would be recognised with an Investor in the Future award, similar to the Investor in People award, Stephen Byers, the party's spokesman on training and employment, has revealed.

While the proposals have not been finalised, it is understood that tax breaks like concessions on charitable donations may be given to firms which take on such a role.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors' seminar, Mr Byers promised a Labour government would give schools greater control over their budgets. While governing bodies already provided some expertise, more responsibility for headteachers suggested a role for business mentors, he argued.

"We need to ask ourselves whether the time has come to try to formalise the relationship between business and schools. I am sure many headteachers would welcome assistance and support in the areas of finance and administration. "

Mr Byers attacked the "cosy conspiracy" within the education establishment which allowed a few to enjoy a good education while most were educated to standards below that of other developed countries.

This constituency of contentment created a resistance to change; ministers seeking radical reform had either "gone native" or been broken on the wheel.

"Politicians have given this educational orthodoxy an easy ride," Mr Byers said. "We have failed on fundamental issues of quality and standards, relevance and opportunity."

The White Paper was a clear example of policies concerned with obtaining political advantage than addressing problems.

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