Lib Dems target class sizes

Last updated at 12:12 11 April 2005

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has put education at the heart of the Party's election campaign today with a commitment to provide 21,000 extra teachers to cut primary school class sizes.

Mr Kennedy said the extra teachers would mean smaller class sizes for infants, with an average of only 20 pupils per teacher - down from the current level of 25.

Class sizes for juniors would also reduce, with an average of 25 pupils per teacher - down from the existing norm of 27.

Liberal Democrats intend to pay for the

initiative by scrapping Labour's planned £1.5billion Child Trust Fund scheme, which Mr Kennedy said was "expensive, unnecessary and will deliver little in the way of real benefit".

Addressing an early morning press conference at

Westminster, Mr Kennedy said: "The more time a teacher can spend with a child, the better the chances for that child.

"What we propose, and the Liberal Democrats will fund, is 21,000 new primary school teachers - teachers who can bring out the best in them, inspiring our children to learn and to be ambitious."

He added: "It will mean smaller groups for whole class work, and more one-on-one time for teachers and classroom assistants with their pupils.

"The benefits of improving classroom conditions for our children at this crucial formative stage

are far-reaching."