The Labour Party officially launched its manifesto for the 2017 General Election on Tuesday, 16th of May.
Labour is proposing to commit an extra £25.3bn for education, which will be funded from extra tax revenue.
Below is a round-up of the pledges made to the education sector:
- Create a unified National Education Service (NES) as one of the “central institutions of fairness” for the 21st century.
- Introduce a fairer funding formula to redress the historical underfunding of certain schools, which would leave “no school worse off”.
- Reduce class sizes to less than 30 pupils for all five-, six-, and seven-year-olds.
- Introduce free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.
- Abandon baseline assessments and review SATs
- End the public sector pay gap and consult on introducing teacher sabbaticals and placements with industry.
- Give teachers “more direct involvement” in the curriculum
- Reduce “monitoring and bureaucracy”
- Reintroduce national pay bargaining for teachers.
- Undo requirement for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy
- Extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health, at a cost of £90 million per year.
- Deliver an inclusive SEND strategy and embed it more substantially into training for all school staff
Labour also promised to extend free childcare to 30 hours for all two-year-olds, scrap tuition fees in England and reintroduce maintenance allowances.
Last week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that extending free school meals to all primary school pupils would cost a Labour government £950m each year.
Russell Hobby, NAHT General Secretary, commented:
It is encouraging that the Labour Party is committing to extra funding for education. We have been campaigning for the £3 billion real terms cuts to be reversed, and all political parties need to sign up to this. This is NAHT’s top priority for education, and formed the first in our five priorities campaign.
Over previous years we have seen costs increase for schools, so it is particularly welcome to see the pledge to remove schools from the obligation to pay into the apprenticeship levy. It is unlikely schools would benefit from this, so this is a welcome commitment.
We know that the school funding crisis is hitting all schools. Committing to reduce class sizes to under 30 for all 5, 6 and 7 year olds is welcome. Rising class sizes is a consequence of real terms funding cuts, and one that school leaders are being forced to make.
Dr Mary Bousted, ATL General Secretary, said:
We are pleased the Labour Party is willing to address the Government’s school cuts. The current situation is unsustainable […] Only by increasing per-pupil funding in real terms will these problems even begin to be addressed. Scrapping the requirement for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy will help by cutting the costs on schools.
[…] Lifting the public sector pay cap and setting up a School Support Staff Negotiating Body should certainly help with the recruitment and retention of staff.
But ATL members will be concerned that plans to charge VAT on independent school fees pose a real risk to the job security of teachers and support staff. We believe it is important to address the disadvantage and poverty which can limit educational attainment but would want to be assured there is strong evidence to support universal, rather than targeted, free school meals.
Geoff Barton, ASCL General Secretary, shared his thoughts on the manifesto in an article for the TES, available to read here.