The Conservatives are failing our children: they have cut school and college budgets to the bone, and focus too heavily on test results at the expense of giving children a good all-round education. Labour want to waste time and money on a massive top-down reorganisation which will do nothing to improve standards.
Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for every one of our children. We have a plan to boost quality at every stage of education.
We will prioritise: providing free, high-quality childcare for children of working parents from nine months; reversing cuts to school funding, employing an extra 20,000 schoolteachers, and clearing the backlog of repairs to school and college buildings; and ending teaching to the test by scrapping mandatory SATs, and replacing existing government performance tables (‘league tables’) of schools with a broader set of indicators.
We will offer free, high-quality childcare for every child aged two to four and children aged between nine and 24 months where their parents or guardians are in work: 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year. We will increase the funding for these free hours to cover the actual cost of nursery provision.
We will reverse cuts to school funding, allowing schools to employ an extra 20,000 teachers and reduce class sizes, restoring them to 2015 levels per pupil with an emergency cash injection. We will invest to clear the backlog of repairs to school and college buildings so we have schools that are safe places to learn in. And we will end the crisis in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities funding by allocating additional cash to local authorities to halve the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s Education Health and Care Plan.
We will raise the starting salary for teachers to £30,000 and increase all teachers’ pay by at least three per cent per year throughout the parliament. We will introduce a clear and properly funded entitlement to genuinely high-quality professional development for all teachers – rising to the level of 50 hours per year by 2025. We will also give extra training to teachers who are required to teach subjects at secondary level where they themselves do not have a post A-level qualification.
We will scrap existing mandatory SATs, replacing them with a formal, moderated teacher assessment at the end of each phase and some lighter-touch testing. We will replace existing government performance tables with a broader set of indicators including information about pupils’ and teachers’ wellbeing, as well as academic attainment. We will replace Ofsted with a new HM Inspector of Schools, with inspections taking place every three years. Independent schools should be subject to the same inspection regime.
We will introduce a ‘curriculum for life’, in all state-funded schools. This will include Personal, Social and Health Education, financial literacy, environmental awareness, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, mental health education, citizenship and age-appropriate Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). Teaching about sexual consent, LGBT+ relationships, and issues surrounding explicit images and content will be included in RSE.
Skills Wallets for every adult in England will give them £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives:The government will put in £4,000 at age 25, £3,000 at age 40 and £3,000 at age 55. Individuals can choose how and when to spend this money on a range of approved education and training courses from providers who are regulated and monitored by the Office for Students.