SCHOOLS & EDUCATION

Education doesn’t just teach us to read and write – it helps us to become independent, enables us to learn about the world around us, gives us perspective, aids problem solving, helps us make better, informed choices and provides invaluable social and life skills – put simply, a good education has the power to change a life.

Providing education opportunity and funding from pre-school, through primary, secondary and higher education years ensures that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential, which in turn helps to build a strong economy and society.

But the Conservatives are letting our children down. Their programme of spending cuts and austerity has decimated our education services and our children are not getting a fair chance at the education each of them deserves.

Since 2010 the Conservatives have:

  • Continually underfunded education, real-term spending on schools and colleges has dropped from £95.5bn in 2011/12 to £87.8bn last year. That amounts to a 25% drop on education spending as a share of GDP in just seven years and represents the largest reduction in education spending for at least 30 years. For our children that means:
    • An increase in class sizes.
    • A reduction in teachers and school staff.
    • Cuts in spending on books and equipment.
    • Cuts in special educational needs provision.
    • Cuts to behavioural and pupil support services.
    • Cuts to music services and outdoor education.
    • Cuts to spending on building maintenance and improvement.
  • 80% of teachers have reported used their own money to support pupils.
  • 75% of headteachers have relied on parents to add to school budgets.
  • The effect on our schools locally from 2015-2020 has been cuts above the average levels, a staggering loss equivalent to more than £1,000 per pupil at Mistley Norman C of E and Bradfield Primary Schools, more than £900 per pupil at Alresford Primary School, £692 per pupil at Harwich & Dovercourt High School and £356 per pupil at Manningtree High School to name just a few – check out the schools your children are attending at schoolcuts.org.uk.
  • Cut local authority spending which has resulted in a 20% cut in the number of children using Sure Start centres – 1,000 centres have closed – with the most dramatic decline happening in some of England’s poorest areas.

A Labour government will:

  • Ensure all schools are properly resourced by reversing cuts and introducing a fairer funding formula, and investing to upgrade schools which have fallen into disrepair.
  • Ensure all pupils are taught by a qualified teacher, that every school is open for a full five days a week, with a maximum class of 30 for all primary school children.
  • Provide an immediate 5% pay rise for public sector workers, with year-on-year above-inflation pay rises to follow.
  • End testing by scrapping Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs, refocussing assessment on supporting pupil progress.
  • Ensure that all schools are under control of the people who know them best – parents, teachers and local communities by…
    • Transferring budget and day-to-day decisions back to schools.
    • Making local authorities responsible for the delivery of education and support for young people, and managing and having responsibility for school places, including the power to open new schools.
  • All schools will be subject to a common rulebook set out in legislation.
  • ‘Poverty proof’ schools by providing free school meals for all primary school children, encourage breakfast clubs and tackle the cost of school uniforms.
  • Bring back the School Support Staff Negotiating Body and national pay settlement for teachers.

And for the early years, a Labour government will:

  • Introduce within five years 30 hours of free pre-school education per week for all 2, 3 and 4-year-olds, with access to additional hours at affordable, subsidised rates staggered with income.
  • Extend paid maternity leave to 12 months.
  • Reverse cuts to Sure Start and create a new service, Sure Start Plus, with enough centres to provide a genuinely universal service, available in all communities, focused on the under 2s.

The future is ours to make.

It’s time for real change – for the many, not the few.

See the full version of the Labour Party Manifesto for more details.