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Polls apart: parties set out local priorities

A trend for manifestos tailored to specific parts of the country emerges ahead of elections

A trend for manifestos tailored to specific parts of the country emerges ahead of elections

Scotland's main political parties have set out their stalls for the local government elections on 3 May, with education priorities ranging from nurseries to school buildings.

A trend is evident this year for manifestos tailored to particular parts of the country, but all have highlighted priorities that extend across Scotland.

The SNP has promised to protect the pound;31 million allocation to the educational maintenance allowance, and aims to get 60,000 children out of crumbling schools into new or refurbished buildings. All pupils would receive on-road cycle training to keep them safe, and the party has reiterated its commitment to 600 hours of free nursery education from the age of three.

Labour has promised to increase teacher numbers across Scotland, with areas such as Aberdeen and the Lothians receiving particular attention.

School building would be accelerated, including the rebuilding or refurbishment of every school that is anything less than brand new in Glasgow. Immediate improvements to childcare are also deemed necessary.

The party promises more support for implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, and greater clarity about what teachers should be doing.

The Liberal Democrats have emphasised early intervention. They promise an additional pound;1 million each year for Highland children and families who need extra help, with a particular focus on the early years. In the Scottish Borders they would provide pound;100,000 for youth projects and a review of provision in nurseries and the first two years of primary school.

In Glasgow they want to form partnerships with local schools so that school facilities are available to the community, particularly at weekends and during holidays. In Fife they would prioritise investment in existing schools over the building of further new schools.

The Conservatives are "very supportive of alternative models of primary and secondary education".

Their national manifesto - accompanied by a number of local manifestos - states: "Where communities feel it is appropriate, schools should be able to operate outwith council control. We would also enable communities to set up their own schools, which they believe reflect their needs and local demand."

Increased funding is mooted for pre-school education, especially disadvantaged two-year-olds. They would explore "innovative approaches" to parental support and introduce training for teachers to improve early identification of dyslexia.

The Greens say they would protect learning assistant posts and the role of additional support in schools.

They want to ensure that every child in Scotland's towns and cities can walk or cycle to primary school safely, and would introduce an energy action plan for each school to free up funds for books and materials.

Junk food is to be removed from schools and links encouraged with local producers to promote healthy eating.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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