Political parties manifesto education pledges – Friday 22 November 2019

This week I report on the publication of education pledges from two of the main political parties, on Sunday the Conservative Party is expected to publish its manifesto.

Labour Party manifesto pledges
The Labour manifesto for the 2019 election was launched in Birmingham yesterday and the key pledges relating to education are detailed below:

  • A £10.5 billion increase in the schools’ budget by 2022-23.
  • A fairer funding formula “that leaves no child worse off”.
  • Maximum class sizes of 30 for all primary school pupils.
  • Scrapping key stage 1 and 2 SATs and baseline assessments, refocusing assessment on “supporting pupil progress”.
  • £175 million arts pupil premium to fund arts education for every primary school child.
  • A review of the curriculum to ensure that it “enriches students and covers subjects such as black history and continues to teach issues like the Holocaust”.
  • Bringing free schools and academies under the control of parents, teachers and local communities.
  • Giving schools control over budgets and day-to-day decisions, overseen by “an accountable governing body with elected representatives”.
  • Putting councils in charge of admissions and allowing them to open schools.
  • Putting NES regional offices in charge of delivery and co-ordination of schools, including peer-to-peer improvement based on the London Challenge.
  • A common rulebook for all schools, set out in legislation.
  • Replacing Ofsted with a new body “designed to drive school improvement”.
  • A teacher supply service to tackle wasted money going to private agencies.
  • Making schools accountable for the outcomes of pupils who leave their rolls.
  • “Proper regulation” of all education providers.
  • Reform of alternative provision.
  • Extending free school meals to all primary school children.
  • Encouraging breakfast clubs.
  • Tackling the cost of school uniforms.
  • The return of the school support staff negotiating body and national pay settlements for teachers.
  • Closing the tax loopholes that currently apply to private schools.
  • Charging VAT on private school fees.
  • Tasking the Social Justice Commission with advising on the integration of private schools and the creation of a comprehensive education system.

Liberal Democrats Party manifesto pledges
On Wednesday the Liberal Democrats launched their 2019 election manifesto and detailed below are their pledges relating to schools:

  • Gender-neutral school uniforms – the party will require inclusive school uniform policies “that are gender-neutral and flexible enough to suit different budgets”. Training will be provided for school staff on how to review and improve their uniform policies.
  • Abolish the Ebacc – the party will protect the availability of arts and creative subjects in the curriculum and “act to remove barriers to pupils studying these subjects”, including by abolishing the English Baccalaureate.
  • Reverse school cuts and boost SEND funding – an “immediate emergency cash injection” as part of a £10.6 billion rise in the overall school budget will be provided and additional cash allocated to councils to halve the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s education health and care plan.
  • Boost teacher pay and CPD – a £30,000 starting salary for all teachers who will also get a guaranteed 3% annual pay rise if they form a Government.
  • Scrap Ofsted, SATs and league tables – Ofsted to be replaced with a new “HM inspector of schools”, which will conduct inspections of both state and independent schools every three years. Replacing current league tables with “a broader set of indicators including information about pupils’ and teachers’ wellbeing, as well as academic attainment”.  End “teaching to the test” by getting rid of SATs and replacing them with a “formal, moderated teacher assessment” at the end of each phase of education “and some lighter-touch testing”.
  • A ‘curriculum for life’ – rolling out citizenship and financial education to all schools including academies.
  • Give councils more powers over academies – giving councils responsibility for admissions and exclusions at all schools. Multi-academy trusts will face full inspections and allow councils to open new community schools.
  • Extend free school meals – extend free school meals to all pupils in primary schools and free meals to all secondary school pupils whose families receive universal credit.
  • Boost pupil wellbeing – all teaching staff to be trained to identify mental health issues, and schools will provide “immediate access for pupil support and counselling”.  A specific individual responsible for mental health in all schools, which would in turn have a statutory duty to promote the wellbeing of their pupils.