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Repeat of primary pledges

Labour's running campaign to revamp primary education is given a comprehensive summary in the English White Paper, writes Nicholas Pyke.

Literacy and numeracy loom large. The paper repeats the promises made by Labour's task forces: by the end of a first term in office (2002), four-fifths of 11-year-olds will have reached the correct reading standard for their age. Three-quarters will have reached a numeracy target.

The Government urges primary schools to set aside an hour for maths and an hour for reading each day. This initiative will be preceded by training for schools, overseen by Labour's Standards and Effectiveness Unit.

The national curriculum itself will give more emphasis on the basics after consultation with the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Children's pro-gress will be easier to track through the introduction of "baseline assessment" on entry to school.

The White Paper repeats Labour's promise to reduce class sizes to 30 or below for all five, six and seven-year-olds.

It also re-caps the plans for nursery education. All four-year-olds will be entitled to a free nursery place in the public or private sector. These will be allocated by the new early-years forums to be established by local authorities.

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