The General Election results are out and have shown an overwhelming Conservative majority. Schools North East are calling on this new Government to adopt our Manifesto for North East Education.
In the run up to the General Election Schools North East produced a Manifesto for North East Education, with a series of recommendations for policymakers to ensure the North East does not continue to be left behind when it comes to education and the long-term issues facing it in the region.
The Conservative party manifesto included promises on funding that were announced as part of the spending review, with a levelling up through minimum guaranteed funding levels. It has been identified that there are significant regional differences in how the funding will be distributed, with the North East losing out in comparison to other regions. Our first recommendation is for politicians to ‘Recognise the regional context’ – and to target funding and policy to those areas which have significant numbers of students facing long-term high-impact deprivation.
The spending increases on offer only cover the next few years, and there is a lack of a long term guarantee on spending. In recommendation 5 of our Manifesto, we are ask politicians to take a long term view on education. While the Conservative manifesto promises do not indicate major structural changes, we suggest a 10 year view of education policy and funding so that schools can plan and prepare, and so that it is possible to adequately evaluate whether policies are working or not.
Other promises on education included raising teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000. While this may help to recruit new teachers, it does not go far enough towards solving the recruitment and retention crisis the sector is facing, and it is not a coordinated effort to ensure that challenging schools attract quality teaching staff or leaders. Our Manifesto calls on policymakers to ensure that more targeted work is done to attract teachers and leaders to schools in disadvantaged areas, and that financial incentives are not used as a stop-gap.
The focus on early years continues to be on childcare as opposed to quality teaching and learning, which we identify in recommendation 6 ‘Greater support for Early Years’. This is integral to reducing the widening attainment gap, as identified by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), which disproportionately affects disadvantaged students in the North East.
The election may be over but our work on the Manifesto for North East Education has literally only just begun. We will be calling on our region’s newly elected politicians to adopt this Manifesto and in the remainder of the academic year we will be developing the detail and nuance that underlie our recommendations. We will do this by hosting a roadshow of ‘Manifesto for North East Education’ Policy Roundtable events, with schools, relevant stakeholders, and partners who can help us create detailed positions behind each recommendation, from which we will continue to press government and policymakers to act upon.
Our first event will be held on 27th February and will focus on the North East’s Context and why this should have a major impact on policy. You can reserve a place at this free event here.