Labour's record so far

February 1980: Education spokesman Neil Kinnock won't promise to fully reverse the Government's educational cuts, but says Labour should become the party which cares about education standards. October: Abolition of private schools becomes policy.

October 1981: Education, training and employment system for all 16-19 year-olds, with a minimum wage, becomes official policy by 7 million votes to 8,000.

July 1983: Kinnock, now party leader, says priorities are developing policy on examination and curriculum, strengthening education in training schemes, and encouraging parental involvement.

1985: Spokesman Giles Radice promises pre-school education for all three and four year-olds.

April 1986: Promises immediate removal of all private school subsidies, abolition of assisted places, and an educational ombudsman, "and above all, a decently-paid, well-trained and highly-committed teaching profession".

May 1987: Major goals to be achieved within two years of taking power; expansion of nursery education, smaller classes, crash programme of books and equipment, repairing and modernising buildings, strengthening of parents' rights and a restoration of teachers' collective bargaining rights.

October 1988: Conference wants national tests scrapped. Jack Straw, now spokesman, thinks a Labour government would still publish results, but not raw scores.

1989: Schools to develop their own strengths, and home-school partnerships desirable. Nursery promises reiterated. May: Grant-maintained schools and CTCs "to be freed from central state control". National Education Standards Council (education authorities, researchers and the inspectorate) to set criteria for good schools. Chief inspector to be more accountable to Parliament. June: Policy for raising standards in schools relies strongly on teacher training reform.

1990: Policy document abandons spending pledges on smaller classes. Student loans to be replaced by "fair grants".

April 1991: Pounds 50m a year CTC cash to go to nursery education. May: Unified system of education and training for all 14 to19 year-olds to replace A-levels. June: Educational Standards Commission to take over HMI. July: Straw moves his son from a primary in Labour-controlled Lambeth to one in Tory Westminster. "It's not as if I've put him down for Eton," he said. October: Conference votes to abolish key stage tests; Jack Straw insists they will remain in revised form.

1992: Manifesto promises Pounds 30m of repairs, Pounds 20m for first year of a national reading standards programme, end of 40-plus primary classes within a year, steadily to 30. Grammar schools to be scrapped. "There is an overwhelming case for ending selection," says Straw. Election lost.

Ann Taylor, new spokeswoman, embarks on review but has apparently made up her mind on grant-maintained schools and league tables: both are to be scrapped.

1993: Review published, minus chapter proposing ending of student grants, which earned frontbencher Jeff Rooker the sack.

July 1994 : Leaking of Ann Taylor's White Paper, apparently connected with hints by Tony Blair that both GM schools and league tables might have a future under his premiership. It calls for GM schools and CTCs to be returned to local democratic framework, abolition of the Funding Agency for Schools and Teacher Training Agency, and a curious General Certificate of Further Education qualification.

October: David Blunkett replaces Taylor. November: he approves of league tables if they help raise standards in underperforming schools and are value-added. December: Row over the Blairs' choice of a GM school for eldest son engulfs party. Blair says choice could not be sacrificed for "political correctness".

June 1995: Publication of new formula on GM status. All schools can now choose whether to become foundation, aided or community, each getting at least 90 per cent of its budget delegated. Grammar schools' status to be decided by local parents. October: Blair pledges that a start will be made on reducing class sizes for infants in the first year of power. Money to come from the Assisted Places Scheme. November: Blunkett extols the virtues of nightly homework. December: Excellence for Everyone promises action against local authorities which fail to improve schools. It emerges that Labour wants a national qualification for heads, superteachers, and streamlined sacking procedures.

1996: Frontbencher Harriet Harman is unrepentant in her choice of a selective school some distance from her home for her second son.

May: David Blunkett announces a drastic overhaul of teacher training, including more emphasis on basic skills, classroom discipline and whole-class teaching. Students to get single loan repayable over 20 years - a major U-turn. July: Draft manifesto promises nursery places for four-year-olds and expansion for three-year-olds, a radical improvement of standards in primary schools, a rejection of the return of the 11-plus, and the future of grammar schools to be decided by parents. "We will not close good schools."

School improvements to be funded through public-private partnerships, Literacy task force to make recommendations within current spending resources. Also home-school contracts.

November: Promises to integrate pre-school education and childcare, and scrap nursery vouchers.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you