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Labour to compromise on schools.

Ministers hinted yesterday that they could agree to key demands from Labour MPs for changes to the Government's plans to give schools more independence.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott dropped his opposition to the controversial schools White Paper and insisted the plans were "fully consistent" with Labour values.

And Education Secretary Ruth Kelly gave her strongest indication so far that she could give ground to her Labour critics when she praised their "constructive" work.

In speeches given almost simultaneously this afternoon, the Cabinet colleagues who had publicly disagreed over the White Paper appeared to have buried their differences.

Speaking in his home constituency of Hull, Mr Prescott said: "I believe that the education White Paper, followed by the Education Bill, will provide a proper balance of flexibility, power, responsibility and greater accountability," he said. "It will strengthen and modernise the comprehensive education system.

"It will continue the great education achievements under the Labour Government since 1997."

The opposition to the plans, which stretched to about 100 Labour MPs and senior party figures, centred on moves to create a new breed of independent "trust schools".

Mr Prescott, unions and many Labour MPs feared the reforms would open the door for schools to select pupils on their academic ability and social background.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 4, 2006
Words:210
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