UK general election 2019 education policy guide

The UK’s political parties have now set out their campaign pledges and manifestos, ahead of what is gearing up to be a hotly contested general election on 12 December. Obviously, Brexit is high on the agenda, but what of their proposed education policies?

Here is a summary of what the main parties are promising schools, teachers and students.

England >
Scotland >
Northern Ireland >
Wales >

England

Conservative

  • £7.1bn a year more for schools in England by 2022-23
  • £250m a year, for at least three years, plus a £250m capital spending boost, for “wraparound” childcare – meaning after school or during holidays
  • £2bn for further education colleges and establish 20 Institutes of Technology
  • A new National Skills Fund of £600m a year for five years
  • Increase teacher starting salaries to £30,000 and overall teachers’ salaries

Labour

  • Create a national education service, providing all children and adults free education for life
  • £7.2bn to scrap university tuition fees
  • Provide free school meals to all primary school children and reduce class sizes to under 30 for all five, six, and seven-year-olds
  • Fund 30 hours’ free childcare for all two to four-year-olds and £1bn for 1,000 new early years Sure Start centres
  • Change tax rules for private schools and consider how they can be further integrated into a comprehensive education system
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Recruit 20,000 more teachers and increase schools funding by £10.6bn a year by 2024/25
  • Increase teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 and guarantee a pay rise of at least 3% a year over the next Parliament
  • Free school meals for all primary school children and for all secondary school children whose families receive universal credit
  • £14.6bn for 35 hours a week of childcare for all two to four-year-olds, and for working parents from when their children are nine months
  • Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest university students

LibDems

  • Recruit 20,000 more teachers and increase schools funding by £10.6bn a year by 2024/25
  • Increase teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 and guarantee a pay rise of at least 3% a year over the next Parliament
  • Free school meals for all primary school children and for all secondary school children whose families receive universal credit
  • £14.6bn for 35 hours a week of childcare for all two to four-year-olds, and for working parents from when their children are nine months
  • Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest university students

Brexit party

  • Scrap interest on student loans
  • Remove the 50% target for young people going into higher education
  • Ensure all young people have the choice between a high-quality apprenticeship, setting up their own business or pursuing further or higher education

Green Party

  • Increase funding by at least £4bn a year
  • Reduce class sizes to under 20 in the long term
  • 35 hours a week free childcare from the age of nine months
  • £7.8bn to scrap university tuition fees. Will also write-off existing debt for graduates who have paid fees of £9,000 a year or more
  • Abolish Ofsted and restore local authority control over education

Independent Group for Change

  • Financial literacy to be included in the national curriculum
  • 20-week funded retraining sabbatical for anyone in need of a mid-career skills boost
  • Tax break to help those who have retrained with relocation costs if they’re moving for a new job
  • Tax breaks for successful employers who offer work placements to students about to leave school

UKIP

  • Encourage the establishment of new grammar schools as well as technical, vocational and specialist secondary schools
  • Pay off the student loans of British graduates of Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – while they are working in their field in the UK
  • Reverse the introduction of LGBT-inclusive and sex and relationship education
  • Encourage fewer university students and more trade apprenticeships
  • Education in schools to focus on making the UK self-sufficient

Northern Ireland

Democratic Unionist Party

  • Reform the schools system and introduce a small schools initiative to ensure isolated communities are adequately represented
  • Reduce bureaucracy and introduce early intervention for pupils with special needs
  • Overhaul career advice with a greater focus on apprenticeships, entrepreneurship and trade skills
  • Invest in coding and computer science to establish Northern Ireland as a leader in digital skills
  • Maintain university fees at a level that will ensure places are accessible to everyone

Sinn Fein

  • Restore the Department of Education budget to at least its pre-austerity levels in real terms
  • Investigate allegations of malpractice and unacceptable delays in children’s statementing processes
  • Deliver the pay award for teaching staff
  • Increase investment in literacy and numeracy support for children in the most disadvantaged areas
  • Keep student fees “affordable”

Alliance Party

  • Strong support for integrated education
  • Advocate a range of alternative post-primary pathways
  • Greater focus on Stem subjects and computer coding

People Before Profit

  • Bring an end to selective and segregated education
  • Address poor educational outcomes based on poverty
  • End tuition fees in higher education

SDLP

  • Comprehensive review of primary and post-primary curriculums to ensure relevance to modern life
  • Ensure arts subjects play a vital role
  • Reinstate the requirement to study a modern language to GCSE level
  • Offer part-time tuition fee loans to students retraining in Stem subjects

Green Party

  • Introduce universal early years education provision
  • Introduce free school meals for all primary pupils
  • End university tuition fees

Ulster Unionist Party

  • A new strategic plan for NI’s school system, with appropriate funding attached
  • Reform of the post-primary transfer test
  • Increase budget autonomy in schools
  • Introduce a system of affordable childcare across NI
  • Prioritise early-years development

Scotland

Scottish Conservatives

  • Make the case for reforms to the comprehensive “one-size-fits-all” school model in Scotland
  • Broader range of government-funded, but independently-run schools
  • Focus on traditional subjects and core knowledge
  • Reform the National 4 qualification

Scottish Labour

  • Scrap assessments for Primary 1 pupils, and review them at P4, P7 and S3 levels
  • Halt the teaching of three and four different levels in classes
  • More funding for children with additional support needs
  • More funding for schools to ensure the Pupil Equity Fund – paid to head teachers to help disadvantaged children – is “truly additional”
  • Reform the student support system, beginning by implementing a minimum student income of about £9,500 a year – based on a £10 an hour income for 25 hours of study time each week

Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • Fund childcare for all two-year-olds and eventually one-year-olds
  • Expand early education
  • Protect Scottish universities from the impact of Brexit and ensure that they are open to all
  • Oppose national testing, especially of P1s
  • Make Pupil Equity Funding permanent, allowing long-term investments to be made for individual children

Scottish National Party

  • Invest £750m to tackle the attainment gap between pupils from the least and most wealthy backgrounds
  • Give schools more freedom over the curriculum, funding and staffing
  • A fifth of students entering university to be from the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland by 2030
  • Maintain free university tuition at Scottish universities
  • Expand childcare to 30 hours per week for all three and four-year-olds and vulnerable two-year-olds – saving families over £4,500 per child each year

Brexit Party

  • Scrap interest on student loans
  • Remove the 50% target for young people going into higher education
  • Ensure all young people have the choice between a high-quality apprenticeship, setting up their own business or pursuing further or higher education

Scottish Greens

  • Employ 4,000 more teachers across Scotland
  • Increased spending and reversal of staff cuts for supporting children with additional needs
  • Introduce kindergarten stage and start primary school later, in line with other European countries
  • Support free and inclusive university and college education

Wales

Conservative

  • Remove schools from local authority control, with funding to come directly from the Welsh Government
  • Working towards consistency in the recognition of technical education qualifications across the UK
  • Introducing modern foreign language learning in primary schools
  • Consider compressed degrees studied over two academic years and encourage the growth of part-time, distance and flexible course options

Labour

  • Schools to remain under local authority control and be comprehensive – no grammars, academies or free schools
  • Instead of league tables, schools to remain colour-coded to indicate whether they need any support
  • Students from Wales to continue to get grants to cover living costs, with loans to cover tuition fees
  • Sats were scrapped more than a decade ago in favour of other tests
  • 30 hours free childcare for three and four-year-olds

Liberal Democrats

  • £560m cash boost for Wales due to spending in England
  • A new curriculum for Welsh schools from 2022
  • Cut infant class sizes
  • New system for pupils with additional learning needs from 2021
  • New rules on school uniform, making it more affordable and offering gender-neutral options

Plaid Cymru

  • Extra £300m a year for Welsh schools and colleges
  • New network of specialist vocational education colleges for those aged 14+ in post-compulsory education

Brexit Party

  • Oppose the Welsh Government’s proposed smacking ban and scrap all interest paid on student tuition fees

Green Party

  • Free universal early education and childcare services
  • End the programme of school closures, especially in rural areas
  • Fund lifelong learning for all

Useful links: 

Who should I vote for? General election 2019 policy guide via @BBCNews

General Election 2019: IFS rejects Labour’s claim 95% taxpayers would not pay extra for its plans – as it happened via @guardian

IFS analysis for the 2019 general election via @TheIFS

General Election 2019: what Conservative and Labour manifestos may reveal, from Brexit to taxes and education via @theipaper

General Election 2019: Compare policies with our interactive manifesto checker via @SkyNews

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