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The manifestos: what'S on offer from the big three parties

LABOUR

Labour promises to increase the share of national income spent on education. In the next three years pound;8 billion would be invested in buildings and equipment, with 650 new schools. The party will also: l recruit an extra 10,000 teachers and cut pupil:teacher ratios * employ more classroom assistants

* boost recruitment and retention packages for teachers

* introduce new targets for 11-year-olds - 85 per cent should reach the expected level in English and maths

* offer wider opportunities for primary pupiils to learn sport, music and a foreign language

* Increase specialist schools to 1,500 by 2006 and create more city academies

* introduce literacy and numeracy strategies in secondaries with targets for 14-year-olds

* increase the number of 14 to 19-year-olds in vocational subjects

* set up a talented youth academy

* ensure that half of under 30s go into higher education by

CONSERVATIVES

The party promises more choice and higher standards in schools. It would:

* match Labour's spending plans

* make it easier for heads to exclude unruly pupils who will be sent to out-of-school "progress centres"

* let successful schools expand

* give parents the right to call in Ofsted to inspect schools

* introduce "free schools" gving heads and governors control over the running of their schools

* allow schools to set admissions policies

* give money "wasted" on bureaucracy straight to schools - equivalent to pound;540 a head

* allow religious groups, parents, charities and companies to set up new schools funded by the state

* raise the salary at which graduates pay back student loans to pound;20,000

* fund universities through an endowment fund

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

The party would invest pound;3 billion extra in education through putting a penny on income tax and introducing a higher tax rate for top earners.

The money would be used to:

* cut average class sizes in primaries to 25 and recruit 5,000 secondary teachers

* increase funds for books and equipment - an average of pound;1,250 for primaries and pound;4,250 for secondaries

* pay primary teachers for preparation time

* replace grants for trainee teachers with a full training salary

* abolish tuition fees for university students

The party also promises to cut bureaucracy and interfere less in the professional judgment of teachers. It would:

* replace targets with individual pupils education plans

* scrap tests for seven-year-olds

* replace the national curriculum with a "minimum curriculum entitlement"


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