EDUCATION AND schools are being eclipsed by other issues in the campaigns for next week's local elections, a national survey of candidates has found.
Just 17 per cent have highlighted local education provision in the statements they have submitted to a network of community websites.
That makes it only the eighth most important policy area for those standing in the biggest test of public opinion since the General Election.
The local environment is first with mentions from 41.5 per cent of candidates. It is followed by health, social and community facilities with 40.8 per cent. Roads and parking came next with 39 per cent, while planning was mentioned by 30 per cent.
Education's poor showing can be partly explained by the fact that many of the authorities participating in Thursday's polls are district councils with no responsibility for schools.
But as Mik Barton, spokesman for the About My Area websites that carried out the survey, said: "Many of them mention the health service even though no local councils have powers over it and 10 per cent talk about climate change."
However, almost a third of candidates in metropolitan districts and unitary authorities, which do have responsibility for schools, mentioned education.
But it still came behind health and social services, transport, the local environment and law and order.
Labour candidates put the most emphasis on education with 29 per cent mentioning it in their statements, then the UKIP (27 per cent), the Conservatives (21 per cent) and the Liberal Democrats (7 per cent). The BNP came last with no candidate mentioning education.
A total of 10,500 council seats are up for election on Thursday in 312 councils. This includes 36 metropolitan districts and 20 unitary authorities where a third of seats will be contested and another 25 unitary authorities where all the seats are up for election.
No county councils or London boroughs are holding elections.