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Tories keep a low policy profile

THE TORIES picked Saturday morning to launch their education policy - and teachers could have been forgiven for not noticing, writes Nic Barnard.

With the issue struggling to make headlines amid rows over tax, Europe, and flying punches in Rhyl - and Labour showing a 34-point lead on education in one MORI poll - the party chose one of the quietest times in the news week to give a three-point "lesson" in how to run schools. A full 12 days into the election campaign, it was the Conservatives' first event devoted to education, and the first press release promoting their "free schools" policy.

Education spokeswoman Thersa May said the party would match Labour's spending plans for new teachers; end the "endless stream" of bureaucracy, and give heads complete freedom to exclude disruptive or violent pupils, abolishing appeals panels.

In a strong attack on Tory education policies, Tony Blair this week said that Labour had to get across to voters the huge gulf between the parties on vital issues such as education.

"It's possible for the whole thing to revolve around John Prescott's punch or Mrs Thatcher's intervention. That isn't important. Top-quality schools for all our children - that's worth coming out and voting for."

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