From David Hawkins:- AFTER 18 years of Conservative government, our education system has been underfunded, understaffed and undervalued by successive Tory education ministers. The Conservatives' record is not a success - statistics prove this. Only one in four 16 year olds gains a pass in GCSE maths, and, as a recent much publicised study by the Basic Skills Agency found, only 20 per cent of the British public could answer simple arithmetic questions, compared to 43 per cent in Japan, one of our most successful competitors.

Teachers have tried in vain to instill the three Rs, amidst crumbling buildings and few resources. At a higher level universities are creaking under the weight of numbers. Many are considering introducing top-up fees to meet their financial needs - so contravening the much cherished principlr of universal free education for all, which has been one of the most respected features of this country.

It is thus no wonder that after four successive Conservative administrations, unemployment is in the millions. The right people are simply not gaining the right skills.

In relation to Wirral South, there have been many scare stories concerning Labour's attitude to Grammar schools. These fears are unfounded. Labour has no intention of waging war on these schools; change if it is to come can only be made with the consent of those parents directly involved.

Calder Road, Higher Bebington

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