* The gap between the strongest and weakest pupils widened in 1997 according to new figures from the Liberal Democrats and education lobby group Article 26. The average point score for the top 20 per cent of pupils (combined GCSE GNVQ) increased by 5.4 grade points between 1992 and 1997, said education spokesman Don Foster.
Meanwhile the bottom 20 per cent only improved by 2.1 points over the same period.
"Without change, the Government's approach to target setting will aggravate rather than reduce relative disadvantage," said Mr Foster. "Rather than countering Tory failure, Labour is in danger of compounding it."