Shoddy work

8th September 2000 at 01:00
IT is not just pupils who face a testing time this year. With the general election expected in the spring, politicians are preparing for their own do-or-die examination.

This week, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats both submitted their latest piece of coursework - their "pre-manifestos" (page 12).

The Lib Dems' promise to cut class sizes, recruit teachers and abolish tuition fees could win them high marks. But the Tories don't seem to have done their homework properly. The idea that "free schools" will be pound;540 per pupil better off if the Tories abolish local education authorities isnonsense. School transport and special educational needs will still have to be paid for. And extra freedom for schools on admissions policies will reduce, not increase, parental choice.

The Conservatives have nothing to say about teacher shortages and morale - the Government's obvious Achilles heel - and further education is completely ignored.

It is difficult to escape the feeling that, like a lazy pupil revising, the Tories are trying to "question spot" without getting to grips with the whole curriculum. They had better buckle down to their studies. The test is approaching fast.

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