This post has been written by Jan Fitzpatrick
In trying to work out what’s been happening in education in the UK this month, it seems like the answer is ‘not very much’ as, unsurprisingly, everybody’s focus is on the upcoming election. Although we try our very best here at Classroom Secrets, to remain impartial when it comes to political opinion, there is no doubt that the result of the election could have profound implications for our jobs, budgets, salaries and working conditions. So, in no particular order, I have provided a summary of what the five main parties* seem to have on offer which may affect those of us working in primary schools. *(I’ve not included the areas of the UK for whom education is a devolved issue).
The Conservatives have pledged to increase spending on schools, to level up funding to £5,000 per pupil in secondary schools and £4,000 in primaries. They have also committed to raising the salaries of newly qualified teachers up to £30,000 per year. They have promised to back school headteachers on discipline, including supporting the use of exclusions. A £1 billion fund has also been committed to boosting childcare, including provision within schools over the holidays, with an additional £250 million capital funding to help schools overcome specific barriers to their goal of having 250,000 more primary school children in onsite childcare over the long summer holidays.
The Labour Party has promised to bring free schools and academies back under local authority control and to close the tax loopholes for private schools. Teachers will be eligible for 12 months maternity leave as part of a raft of proposals to improve how women are treated at work. Ofsted would be replaced by a new inspection system involving two phases; local authorities would carry out ‘health checks’ on schools, whilst more ‘in-depth’ inspections would be by full-time, trained inspectors.
The Liberal Democrats have matched the Conservatives in pledging to raise teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 and guarantee a 3 per cent annual pay rise for all state school teachers between now and 2024-25, in addition to boosting teacher numbers by an additional 20,000 over four years (although this is acknowledged to have a greater impact on our secondary schools as this is where the shortage is currently more acute). In its manifesto, the party has promised to increase the schools budget by £10 billion by 2024-25, with a further £7 billion allocated for new school buildings and maintenance over five years. As well as replacing Ofsted, the Lib Dems would replace SATs. As featured in previous manifestos, the party will end “teaching to the test” by replacing SATs with a “formal, moderated teacher assessment” at the end of each phase of education “and some lighter-touch testing”.
The Green Party has pledged to spend an extra £4bn a year on schools, with class sizes to be reduced to 20 in the long term, with policies similar to Labour’s with regard to reform of private schools.
The Brexit Party has not mentioned any additional spending on schools or early years, but they have emphasised expanding parental choice by continuing the system of academies and free schools.