Lib-Dem Manifesto: education pledges ‘Put children first’

The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto for the 2017 General Election yesterday, pledging a £7bn investment in children’s education.

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Leading with their belief that teachers should be “given the flexibility to apply their expertise and develop children’s passion for learning”, the Lib-Dems have set the following plan for education if they win this year’s General Election:

  1. Scrap grammar schools plans and devolve all capital money for new school spaces to local authorities
  2. Introduce a fairer National Funding System with a protection for all schools
  3. End the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises
  4. Extend the free school meal programme to all primary school pupils
  5. Introduce 25 hours of high quality CPD by 2020, to rise to 50 by 2025
  6. Tackle teacher workload by reforming Ofsted inspections and focusing on an evidence-based approach
  7. Allow Ofsted to inspect academy chains
  8. Introduce a curriculum entitlement – a slimmed down core national curriculum
  9. Prioritise primary progress measures instead of floor thresholds and work with the profession to reform tests at 11
  10. Provide training to all teaching staff to identify mental health issues
  11. Amend the Ofsted inspection framework to include promoting wellbeing as a statutory duty of schools
  12. Improve links between employers and schools, encouraging all schools to participate in employment and enterprise schemes

The above are the headline pledges, but the Liberal Democrats have published an extended education section of their manifesto which you can read here.

Their entire 2017 General Election manifesto is available to read here

Russell Hobby, NAHT General Secretary, said:

We welcome the pledge in the Liberal Democrat manifesto to put almost £7 billion extra into education. We have been consistently arguing for greater funding. As a minimum, schools need to see a reversal of the £3 billion real terms cuts they face. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to address funding; the Conservatives should follow suit. School budgets are at breaking point, and all parties must have a plan to address this.

An additional investment in the early years pupil premium is also a welcome commitment. NAHT has campaigned for the early years pupil premium to mirror the level given to primary schools, and a tripling of this would help deliver resources where they are most needed. It is clear that investment in the early years is the best route to boost social mobility. The call to increase the number of those in early years with an early years teaching qualification is also a very positive move.

Geoff Barton, ASCL General Secretary, commented:

We very much welcome the commitment of the Liberal Democrats to improve education funding, as we do Labour’s pledge on this issue. It is the number one priority in ASCL’s General Election manifesto. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have recognised the importance of ensuring that schools and colleges are properly funded, and we are sure that the public will expect the Conservatives to invest in the future of our young people too.

There is also much else to welcome in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto, including long-term planning of initial teacher training places, which will help to address the ongoing recruitment crisis. The creation of a body to pilot, phase-in and fund future policy changes, is in line with our members’ calls for a unified, depoliticised approach to education reform. We definitely welcome the proposed involvement of educational professionals and other experts. Such a step would help to put a stop to the scattergun of poorly thought-through reforms which put huge pressures on schools and colleges, and too often waste public money.

It is also good to see the Liberal Democrats’ support for the Foundation for Leadership in Education, which ASCL, along with other education organisations, has established as an independent body to promote high-quality, evidence-based leadership.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL General Secretary, said:

Opposition parties are giving a clear message that the Government’s school cuts are unsustainable. ATL applauds the Liberal Democrats’ promise to reverse those cuts, ensure funding for every pupil is protected in real terms, and to give a new funding formula the resources it needs to succeed for all schools and all pupils. If the party elected to govern on 8 June doesn’t make, and enact, such a commitment then children will lose out with a narrower curriculum, less support for disadvantaged pupils and those with mental health problems, fewer staff and resources.

We commend the promise to provide resources for early years education to address pre-existing disadvantages […]

Any attempts to increase the quantity of apprenticeships or the number of providers, must be preceded by significant work to raise the quality of apprenticeships. This will require productive talks with the further education profession and learners.

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