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Power to parents and inspectors

Labour was due to reveal plans yesterday to rebuild or refurbish every secondary science laboratory in England over three years at a cost of nearly pound;250 million.

The education chapter of its manifesto opened with the slogan: "Forward to personalised learning, not back to mass failure".

Among few surprises were plans to let inspectors decide whether a school closes or takes on new management. The party also aims to give every secondary a school nurse and "encourage more schools and boarding schools as a way of helping the most disadvantaged children". Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, said she had been impressed by the work of the existing 30 state boarding schools.

Most of the policies had already appeared in the Government's five-year strategy on education, including plans to create or have in development 200 academies by 2010, and to make all secondaries specialist with full programmes of after-school activities.

The party repeated its promise to take a zero-tolerance approach to poor behaviour and provide an extra pound;210m for school meals. Chancellor Gordon Brown said the election would be "the education election". He pledged cash saved on employment benefits in Labour's third term would go to education. But the party refused to predict how much this could add to school budgets.

Labour claim that it would strengthen parents' influence were attacked by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, who said plans to slim down school governing bodies would have the opposite effect.

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