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Lib Dems pledge to pay for lesson preparation

PRIMARY teachers would be paid for the time they spend preparing their lessons, under new proposals from the Liberal Democrats, writes Nicolas Barnard.

Launching the party's new education policy, party leader Charles Kennedy also said school inspections would be reformed to make them more constructive and proposed teacher-training salaries of pound;10,000 - pound;4,000 higher than the Government is introducing - to ease the recruitment crisis.

Joining the growing chorus of concern over red tape, Mr Kennedy said: "We're facing a national disaster in recruitment and retention of teachers and endless form-filling and bureaucracy only adds to their already high levels of stress.

"Teachers desperately need the Government to give them the time and space to do what they do best - teach our children - not fill our forms." P> In contrast to the relaunch of Tory education policy, the Lib Dem proposals seem aimed at teachers rather than parents.

The party would give all primary teachers two hours preparation time per week in school hours.

That would require an extra 5,000 teachers, at an estimated cost of pound;280 million a year.

Its proposals to reform the Office for Standards in Education will also strike a chord in staffrooms. The party wants to make OFSTED more accountable to Parliament, and refocus inspections so that they "help schools rather than intimidate them".

Inspectors would be told to offer solutions, rather than simply identifying problems, and school self-evaluation would become part of the inspection process. Inspection reports would also have to comment on whether schools were adequately funded.

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