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A vote for Blair after '18 years of turmoil'

Frances Rafferty examines the election wish-list of the Secondary Heads Association, and samples three individual views

Judith Elderkin, head of Marlborough primary school, Salford, is going to vote for Tony Blair after what she calls 18 years of Tory turmoil in education.

She said: "I could not consider voting for the present Government. I am against the philosophy of putting public services into the market place, from health, social services to education.

"I do support some aspects of the local autonomy the Conservatives have introduced, but I believe local management of schools is unfairly funded and ill-conceived. I am hoping that Labour will work towards a fairer method of funding schools, particularly the differential between primary and secondary. "

Ms Elderkin believes Labour's pledge to introduce a General Teaching Council is attractive and overdue.

She is impressed by Labour's promise to end the Assisted Places Scheme and use the money to ensure than children aged under seven will not be taught in classes of 30 or more. "I have heard David Blunkett and Estelle Morris (from Labour's education team) speak and I agree with about 70 per cent of what they say. I think they ought to be careful and not stray into aspects of education best left to the professionals. There is a lot of evidence to show that homework does improve performance, but it is not right for a Government to say how much should be done," she said.

Law and order is another concern: "Schools are being affected by increases in crime. I am interested in a party which says it will take a serious look at its root causes."

Although she does support many of the Liberal Democrats' policies on education, she believes she should cast her vote where it will be most effective. Unseating her Conservative MP, Nicholas Winterton, with his majority of more than 22,000 will take some doing, however.

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