Conservative Manifesto: ‘The world’s great meritocracy’ education pledges

The Conservative Party has published its 2017 General Election manifesto today, outlining their plans if they remain in government.

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Below are the pledges made by the Party to the education system, based on the Conservatives’ desire to make Britain “a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow”:

  1. Deliver more school places by ending the ban on selective schools and continuing the free schools programme, aiming to build 100 new ones each year
  2. Prohibit councils from creating any new places in schools that have been rated either Inadequate or Requires Improvement
  3. Ask universities and independent schools to help run state schools
  4. Increase overall schools budget by £4bn by 2022 and ensure no school is worse off as part of the new funding formula
  5. Open a specialist maths school in every major city in England
  6. Introduce a curriculum fund for developing knowledge-rich materials
  7. Expect 75% of pupils to have entered EBacc subjects by end of next parliament, with 90% by 2025
  8. Offer forgiveness on student loan repayments for teachers to help retain them within the profession
  9. Create a jobs portal for schools to advertise vacancies in order to reduce costs and help with recruitment
  10. Offer free school breakfast to all primary school pupils and scrap universal infant free school meals 
  11. Introduce mental health first aid training for teachers in every school
  12. Replace unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules preventing establishment of new Roman Catholic schools

The Conservative Party also wants to create more nurseries by introducing the presumption that all new primary schools should include one. They promise to deliver a world-class technical education by replacing 13,000 existing technical qualifications with the new T-levels.

Read the 2017 Conservative Manifesto here.

Russell Hobby, NAHT General Secretary, commented:

All the evidence shows that school budgets are at breaking point. The Conservatives’ decision to pledge an increase in the schools budget of £4 billion by 2022 is therefore welcome. But £4 billion over five years is short of what is needed, and we need to be clear when this is to be delivered and any ring-fencing that may apply.

There is finally an admission here that there is not enough in the mainstream schools budget, which is welcome. The Conservatives now accept what those in education have been saying. However, they are short of what is needed for schools to just stand still. Moreover, their remedy to take money away from universal infant free school meals to help plug this gap is disappointing. This is just moving money around inside the system.

Geoff Barton, ASCL General Secretary, said:

We welcome any improvement to school funding, but unfortunately the Conservative pledge of a £4 billion boost includes a large element of sleight of hand. The schools budget would have to increase by about £2.8 billion in any case because the pupil population will rise by 490,000 by 2022. So, the ‘extra’ money is in fact just over £1 billion, which is not enough to counteract the rising costs which are hitting schools and will amount to £3 billion a year by 2020. We calculate that the schools budget would need to increase by a total of between £6 billion and £7 billion to counter the impact of rising costs and implement the planned National Funding Formula in a way which is truly equitable.

We support the proposed investment in technical education, but we are very disappointed that there is no recognition of the urgent need for improved funding in post-16 education in general. The current level of funding is woefully inadequate and is leading to cuts in A levels and other courses.

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