General election 2019: Education

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Parties had little to say on the issue of exclusions or welfare in schools. Picture: Monkey Business/Adobe Stock
Parties had little to say on the issue of exclusions or welfare in schools. Picture: Monkey Business/Adobe Stock

LABOUR

  • Provide free school meals to all primary school children
  • Abolish Ofsted and replace it with a new schools inspectorate
  • Scrap Sats tests in primary schools
  • Remove the charitable status of private schools
  • Cut primary school class sizes
  • Plans to restore education maintenance allowance
  • Employ 15,000 early years staff

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

  • Emergency cash injection of £4.6bn to reverse funding cuts since 2015
  • Commitment to spend £10.6bn more on schools in 2024/25 compared to now
  • Recruit 20,000 more teachers through boosting starting salaries
  • Introduce a three per cent increase per year in teacher pay

CONSERVATIVES

  • Increase school funding by £14bn, with more going to historically underfunded areas
  • Each secondary school pupil will receive a minimum of £5,000 next year, and each primary school pupil will receive £4,000 by 2021/22
  • Extra £400m in education funding for 16- to 19-year-olds
  • Invest £10m in national Behaviour Hubs to enable schools that already have an excellent behaviour culture to work closely with other schools to drive improvement
  • Salaries for new teachers will be increase to £30,000 by 2022/23
  • £1.8bn into capital fund for a further education colleges rebuild programme

COMMENTARY

When Labour unveiled its plans to scrap Ofsted in September, it met with a mixed reaction. Former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw calls it “bonkers”, but there is support from some unions. Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, says Ofsted has forced teachers from the profession and harshly judged schools in disadvantaged areas.

“Schools in disadvantaged areas, doing the hardest work, are routinely downgraded by Ofsted, not for the quality of their teaching but because of the deprivation of their pupils,” she says. “Labour’s proposal to abolish an overall school grade is long overdue. Schools are too complex to be reduced to a single grade. Under Labour’s proposals, inspections will focus on those areas of a school which clearly need to improve.”

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of headteachers union NAHT, said none of the parties are pledging the additional £6.4bn needed to resolve underfunding in schools. He adds that the Lib Dem’s pledge of 20,000 new teachers “is well short of the 47,000 secondary and 8,000 primary teachers needed”, while the three per cent pay rise year on year “won’t make up for what they have lost in the last decade”.

The Tories’ pledge to invest in further education colleges has been welcomed by Association of Colleges’ chief executive David Hughes. “Capital investment was one of our five proposals for the next government in our manifesto for this election because funding cuts have made it tough to find the budget to invest in their buildings, and too much of the college estate is not good enough,” he says.

The parties had little to say on the issue of exclusions or welfare in schools. The NCB wants a timeframe set for reducing permanent exclusions and removing incentives in the system to exclude children. It also wants to see wellbeing of children given equal weight to academic progress.

Meanwhile, instead of Labour’s plans to scrap private schools, the Sutton Trust calls for 40,000 independent school places to be made available to poorer pupils to boost social mobility.

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