Education for the many
Labour’s National Education Service will provide free education for everyone throughout their lives, and will nurture every child and adult to find a path that’s right for them, by promoting all types of learning, skill and knowledge – technical, vocational, academic and creative.
Schools in crisis
- Schools are desperately underfunded under Tory austerity. Schools in England are facing the biggest fall in per-pupil spending in 30 years. Total school spending per pupil has fallen by 8% after inflation since 2009. Staff have been made redundant, class sizes have gone up, subjects have been scrapped and teaching hours cut. The Tories’ latest funding announcement leaves 83% of schools still facing cuts next year.
- Meanwhile, Heads of Multi Academy Trusts earn fatcat salaries from public funds amidst scandals and financial mismanagement. The academy system is over-centralised, inefficient, and undemocratic. There is no evidence that academies deliver better results, while parents, communities and even teachers are shut out of decisions about schools and vulnerable children are being let down.
- The obsession with testing neither contributes to high standards nor provides an accurate reflection of school performance. Monitoring and competition has led to a restriction on curriculum teaching, focusing on testable subjects and pressuring teachers to ‘teach to the test’.
- Ofsted inspections are unfair, unreliable and failing to support schools to improve. Ofsted results reflect the class background of the school’s intake rather than quality of teaching. Ofsed’s system for judging and ranking schools puts huge pressure on schools and feeds teacher workload and stress.
- Students and teachers are under immense pressure. This is reflected in the crisis of teacher recruitment and retention. 40% of teachers exit the profession within five years of starting their training, most citing workload around exams as the main issue. Students suffer pressure and anxiety, and left without the skills they need to flourish as adults. Children from poorer backgrounds, some BAME communities and children with special educational needs are particularly harmed by regular standardised testing.
- Reverse the cuts to school budgets, making sure schools are properly resourced with increased long-term funding, and investment for upgrades.
- Ensure pupils are taught by qualified teachers, that every school is open for a full five days a week, and maximum class sizes of 30 for all primary school children. Fund more non-contact time for teachers to prepare and plan.
- End the fragmentation and privatisation of our school system, moving towards a new system where all schools follow the same rules, and parents and local communities have meaningful power over the schools in their areas.
- Return powers to local government, making them responsible for all school admissions in their areas, and giving them the powers they need to open and commission new schools to create the school places their communities need.
- Create the Co-operative Schools Trust to give local communities a voice in delivering the school places they need.
- Bring back the Education Maintenance Allowance.
- Provide free school meals to all primary school children.
- Introduce an arts Pupil Premium (with £160m a year of extra funding).
- End primary school league tables.
- Scrap national SATs tests for the youngest children in key stage 1 and 2.
- Abolish Ofsted, and introduce a new model for school inspections based on collaboration not competition, and school improvement not punitive sanctions.
- The Tories are turning universities into private businesses, with huge salaries for senior managers while students are loaded with debt. The Tories have tripled tuition fees and allowed interest rates hikes. Young people are now leaving university with an average of £57,000 worth of debt.
- Tory austerity has left lifelong learning underfunded. The Tories have slashed funding on further education and skills by £3bn and overseen a 25% decline in adults enrolling in education.
- We have a massive skills shortage in the UK, particularly in higher technical skills. There will be 1.5 million job openings in these areas in the next 5 years.
- We need training in public services such as health, and in industries that will be essential to delivering Labour’s Green Industrial revolution, including engineering, digital, and construction.
- Two-thirds of businesses aren’t able to fill skilled posts skills. This gap will only grow with automation and the need to respond to climate change.
- Increasing the number of people trained to these levels will be central to delivering both the Green Industrial Revolution.
- Scrap tuition fees.
- Expand lifelong learning for all adults at any point in life: free full access for level 3 courses (A-Levels equivalent); six years’ free study at level 4-6 (UG or equivalent).
- Means-tested maintenance grants for all learners at Level 4-6.
- Give workers the right to paid time off for education and training.
- Give employers a role in co-design and co-production of qualifications.
Childcare and Sure Start
- The Tories have slashed funding for Sure Start, with nearly £1 billion cut in real terms and more than 1,000 centres lost since they came into office.
- The Tories’ so-called free childcare is not available to the most disadvantaged 3 and 4 year olds. Disadvantaged students are being held back even further.
- 1,000 new Sure Start centres, integrating support on education, health, and family support. £1 billion funding provided to local authorities, with support focussed on the most deprived communities.
- 30 hours of free childcare to all two to four year olds. This would save parents £2,500- £5,000 a year.
- Increase pay and skill levels of childcare workers, recruiting nearly 150,000 additional early years staff, including Special Educational Needs Coordinators, and introduce a national pay scale.
Labour’s Manifesto: Bitesized
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