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LABOUR'S AMBITIONS FOR EDUCATION - MANIFESTO LAUNCH

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'Our education manifesto starts with a commitment further to increase the share of national income devoted to educa...
'Our education manifesto starts with a commitment further to increase the share of national income devoted to education. This will allow us to recruit at least 10,000 more teachers and 20,000 more classroom assistants and support staff. It will offer every three year-old a free nursery place and give primary pupils a greater chance to learn music, sports and languages' - David Blunkett launching Labour's education manifesto.
'We have seen real improvements in the last four years. We have laid the foundations with increased investment, lower class sizes and rising primary school standards.
Today we set out our ambitions for a second term of reform.
Our education manifesto starts with a commitment further to increase the share of national income devoted to education. This will allow us to recruit at least 10,000 more teachers and 20,000 more classroom assistants and support staff.
The Conservatives have not pledged to recruit a single extra teacher or classroom assistant.
It will offer every three year-old a free nursery place and give primary pupils a greater chance to learn music, sports and languages.
There will also be a step change in provision for adult basic skills to enable at least 750,000 adults to gain those skills.
It will support an expanded capital programme. That capital investment of over£8 billion over three years will give every school a growing capital budget, enable 7,000 schools to have major repairs and provide 650 new or completely refurbished schools.
It is an investment that stands in stark contrast with the Tories plans to cut£20 billion if they were ever elected.
But investment must be accompanied by reform. That is the one key lesson of the improvements we have made over the last four years.
We have already made a start in our secondary schools. There are more pupils getting five good GCSEs than in 1997 and fewer leaving with no exam passes. There are more youngsters taking work-related courses. Excellence in Cities and the expansion of specialist schools have shown faster improvements.
But we now need a step change in our secondary schools to match that which we have achieved in our primaries. Key to this is ensuring that every pupil has the chance to fulfil their potential, to realise their talents.
This radical modernisation of our comprehensive schools starts with improved standards for 11 to 14 year olds, so that there is better teaching in the core subjects, with continued entitlement to the broad national curriculum.
There will also be extra help for 12 year olds in English and Maths where they have not met the expected standard in primary schools.
So, we will continue to expand Excellence in Cities and to do more for gifted and talented pupils.
By September 2003, up to 200,000 young people will benefit from programmes for our brightest pupils. There were no such programmes before 1997 and that target is twice the current number.
We will also give strong encouragement to schools to enable many more young people to take early GCSEs where they are ready and wish to do so. The number has already risen by 40 per cent since 1998. All this will be backed by£70 million a year investment - up from£7 million in 1999. The Tories invested nothing.
Increasing numbers of mentors will work with disaffected youngsters. We will also do more to help heads tackle discipline, with more in-school units and a full-time education for all those who are excluded from next year.
Every school and college will be encouraged to develop a distinct ethos, mission and centre of excellence.
We have trebled the number of specialist schools since 1997. There are just over 600 now designated. By 2006, there will be at least 1,500.
There will be new specialisms in business and enterprise, science and engineering to add to technology, arts, science and sports.
1,500 is a milestone not the limit of our ambitions. Over time I see no reason why all those who are willing and ready to do so should not develop a specialism.
Diversity will also be promoted in new City Academies, more church schools and more beacon schools spreading good practice.
The challenge of radical modernisation of our comprehensive schools is also a challenge of meeting the aptitudes of every pupil. The vocational has been neglected for too long.
We have begun to offer work-related opportunities to more 14 and 15 year olds, with around 50,000 young people doing vocational courses.
In the next parliament, with vocational GCSEs and new apprenticeships, we will enable as many as one in six young people or 200,000 young people to have the chance to take vocational courses at school and college leading on to apprenticeships with employers.
Headteachers have had more financial autonomy under Labour and we will ensure that they have more in the next parliament.
Where schools are successful we have already given them greater freedoms and we will give them yet more autonomy in a new parliament.
Improved standards in school will mean better job and educational opportunities after school.
Our ambition is that fifty per cent of young adults going to higher education by the age of 30 by 2010.
This will be delivered through more help and encouragement for bright inner city young people and new foundation degrees to enable people to gain the qualifications being demanded by business.
The goal will be backed by higher standards in our colleges and universities.
We have delivered real improvements in our schools in our first term.
The challenge for us - and for our nation - in the next four years is to build on those foundations to see the investment and reform that our schools, colleges and universities all need.'
* Part 1 of the document is available hereand Part 2 here.
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