It's Election Time!

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It's election time again! Exciting stuff!

…Or not at all depending on whether you’ve had quite enough of politics in the last few years. Our DSL however is quite the political junkie and loves this stuff so here’s our round up of education (specifically schools and early years) policies from the three main party’s manifestos.

Conservative:

  • Additional £14bn in funding for schools (£150m/week) with at least £5k per secondary pupil and £4k per primary pupil.
  • £780m in new funding for pupils with SEND.
  • Raising teacher’s starting salaries to £30k
  • Backing headteacher’s in using exclusions to manage behaviour and ensuring OFSTED remains in place to measure standards and behaviour.
  • Expanding AP and providing more places for pupils with complex SEND.
  • Arts premium to secondary schools to fund enrichment and investment in primary PE.

Alongside this the Tories specifically talk about vulnerable young people and are prioritising adoption and local authority fostering for those who need it alongside ‘championing’ family hubs and the troubled families programme.

Labour:

Labour’s headline initiative is the National education Service, promoting ongoing education throughout a person’s life. Specifically with regards to the schools sector this includes:

  • Reverse cuts to Sure Start and introduce Sure Start+ for under 2’s.
  • 30 hours of free childcare for 2-4 year olds.
  • Work to extend childcare provision for 1 year olds.
  • Moving early years to a graduate led workforce.
  • Fund providers directly and provide funding to secure their future.
  • Increase funding for schools.
  • Provide ‘necessary funding’ for pupils with SEND and disabilities.
  • Scrapping KS1 and 2 SATs and refocus on supporting progress.
  • Introduce Arts Pupil Premium for every Primary pupil.
  • Review the curriculum to ensure it enriches through coverage of black history month and the holocaust for example.
  • Bring free schools and academies back under the control of parents, teachers and local communities.
  • Provide schools with control over their budgets
  • Give the LA control over admissions and school places.
  • Oversight provided through peer to peer monitoring and a new body to replace OFSTED.
  • All schools to be subject to a ‘common rulebook’.
  • Ending off-rolling.
  • Increasing regulation of Alternative Provision.
  • Free school meals for all primary pupils.
  • National pay settlements for teachers and bringing back the School Support Staff Negotiating Body.
  • Closing tax loopholes for the private sector and look at integrating them into the public sector.

Liberal-Democrats:

The Lib-Dem’s top priorities are:

  • Providing free childcare for working parents from 9 months.
  • Reversing cuts to funding, employing 20,000 more teachers and dealing with the backlog of repairs.
  • Scrapping SATs and replacing league tables with broader indicators.

The manifesto then provides greater detail on these priorities:

  • Invest £1bn into Children’s Centres
  • Triple early years Pupil Premium
  • Ensuring all early years staff have a relevant qualification including one member of staff per setting to be a graduate.
  • Emergency cash injection to schools
  • Increase SEND funding to halve the costs to schools as a part of the EHCP process.
  • Curriculum for life for secondary pupils to look at PSHE, RSE, life skills, financial skills, mental health, LGBTQ+ and citizenship.
  • Independent body to advise on curriculum changes.
  • Replace OFSTED with a new inspection body to focus on social and emotional wellbeing of pupils and staff, three year inspections and ensuring independent schools are subject to the same requirements.
  • Improving vocational education and the careers services.
  • Protect the arts in school and focus on critical thinking and creativity for life.
  • Giving the LA the responsibility for admissions and places, SEBD and exclusions.
  • A requirement for MATs to have external inspection.
  • No new grammar schools.
  • Starting teachers salaries to be raised to £30k with a 3%/year increase.
  • Improve CPD for teachers raising to 50 hours per year by 2025 including additional support for secondary teachers to teach a subject they’re not educated past A-Level in.
  • Free school meals to all primary schools and secondary pupils on universal credit.
  • Mental health training for all teaching staff including a mental health lead.
  • Statutory duty to promote wellbeing as part of inspections.
  • Tackle bullying
  • Gender neutral uniforms and guidance to schools on uniform policies.
  • Challenge gender stereotyping, promoting positive body image and breakdown gender bias in school subjects.
  • Teaching on responsible use of social media and protection online.

A couple of points that jump out at first glance. The Tories are the only ones who throw figures around in their actual manifesto document to any great extent although all parties have their own costings documents. Someone with a greater head for accounts can break those down at their leisure!

Interestingly both parties to the left of centre talk about scrapping OFSTED and replacing it with an alternative. Quite what this replacement would look like is pretty much anyone’s guess. There’s also a lot of vagueness in policies like adopting a common rulebook for schools and various statements around ‘improving’ and ‘increasing’ whether this be funding or standards.

The Tories pretty much tick the boxes around increasing finding etc but are pretty light on details on the whole. Labour continue to push their National Education service and their flagship policies announced a while back around getting rid of the independent sector and private schools. We understand where they’re coming from with this but working in the independent sector this does pose a worry. We’re not all Eton and we fill an important role meeting the needs of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society. Meanwhile the lib-Dems go out of their way to ensure they mention gender neutrality, LGBTQ+ and positive body image.

Moving away from the arguments on Brexit, the buzz words that get thrown out (or up depending on your opinion) every day, most people will already have a view on who they’ll be voting for in a couple of weeks time. Hopefully the outline above helps to focus some of the ides around education to enable an informed decision beyond party camps.