Liberal Democrats

Education & Young People

 
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Demand Better for our Schools


Our children are not getting the education they deserve.

The Conservatives are cutting school funding to the bone, failing our children. Schools are struggling to afford basic supplies and teachers are being put under impossible pressure.

The Liberal Democrats demand better for our children’s futures. We will give teachers the resources they need to teach and pupils need to learn.

Our plan will ensure children from all backgrounds have the education they deserve, giving them the best chance in life, and make sure teachers can get back to teaching our children.

OUR PLAN FOR EDUCATION

Reverse cuts to school funding.

Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium - money which provides additional support to children from disadvantaged backgrounds - to £1000.

Guarantee all teachers a pay rise which is at least in line with inflation and invest more in teachers' continued professional development.

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Our children are not getting the education they deserve. The Conservative Government’s flawed funding has created this crisis, leading to teachers leaving and increased class sizes. Teachers should not have to buy resources out of their own pockets, while parents are asked for additional donations simply to keep the most basic services available at our schools.

The Liberal Democrats demand better for our children’s futures. We will give schools the resources teachers need to teach and pupils need to learn. We will:

  • Reverse school cuts with an emergency cash injection so that teachers can get on with the job of teaching rather than having to concentrate on budgeting for the basics.
  • Protect the Pupil Premium which targets extra help at disadvantaged children.
  • Invest in new school buildings and repairs to keep up with rising pupil numbers

Investing in high-quality early years education has a huge impact on children’s attainment as they enter school. Our most vulnerable children have the most to gain from excellent early years setting, with partnerships with parents a key component. We will:

  • Increase our Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 per pupil per year.
  • • Raise the quality of early years provision, by ensuring that most early years staff have or are working towards an early years qualification, and by having a graduate leader in every early years setting in the long-run.

Too many good teachers are leaving the profession – in many cases because of the excessive pressure they are under from heavy workloads and funding cuts. We want to empower teachers and make sure they feel valued for the essential work they do. We want to improve the status of the teaching profession and support and nurture teachers in their work – helping to drive up standards in every school. We will:

  • Ensure that teachers are paid fairly for the work they do.
  • Guarantee that all teachers in state-funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards qualified teacher status.
  • Introduce a clear and properly funded entitlement to 25 hours a year of genuinely high-quality continuing professional development for all teachers, rising in the long-term to the OECD average of 50 hours.

Far too many children are still failing to get the opportunities they need. Rather than focusing on delivering a high-quality education, teachers are being put under unnecessary pressure from a high-stakes testing and inspection regime that offers little to no educational benefit. Performance data and spreadsheets matter more than giving children the opportunity to learn.

Liberal Democrats demand an end to teaching to the test. We will support schools to improve rather than punishing them for failure. We want every child to be valued by their school, so that they come home from school happier, healthier and equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to flourish in the modern world.

  • Scrap Key Stage 2 SATs, replacing them with moderated teacher assessments and a low-stakes standardised test.
  • Replace league tables with a much wider range of information, including pupil feedback and peer reviews by teachers from nearby schools, so that prospective parents can find out about a school’s pastoral care and curriculum breadth, not just how well it does in SATs and GCSEs.
  • Abolish Ofsted and replace it with a new schools inspectorate, which will look at the performance of a school in the round, focusing on its culture and the wellbeing of teachers and pupils as much as on academic performance.
  • Give democratically elected local authorities clear responsibility for admissions, places planning and SEND, and repeal the rule that all new state-funded schools must be free schools or academies.
  • Oppose any planned expansion of grammar schools.
  • Allow our new schools inspectorate to inspect both local authorities and academy chains.
  • Rule out state-funded profit-making schools and ensure that new schools are built in areas where there is a need for new school places, instead of wasting money on over-supply.
  • Ensure that identification and support for children with special educational needs or a disability takes place as early as possible. We will end the crisis in high needs funding by increasing councils’ budgets for every child on an Education, Health and Care Plan.

We want schools to have flexibility, but we also believe that parents and children need to know that the curriculum in every school will cover the essentials and that teachers will be skilled educators who know how to inspire a love of learning.

Education should equip children with rich knowledge for life, nurturing creativity and problem-solving, and instilling a passion for life-long learning. Children should be helped to develop the life skills they will need as adults, and every pupil should receive outward-looking advice and guidance about their future. We will:

  • Introduce a curriculum entitlement – a slimmed down core national curriculum, which will be taught in all state-funded schools, including academies. This will include a ‘curriculum for life’ including financial literacy, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, mental health education, citizenship, and age-appropriate Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
  • Create an independent Education Standards Authority to design, pilot, phase-in and fund future changes to the national curriculum, in consultation with teachers and experts.
  • Protect the availability of arts and creative subjects in the curriculum and remove barriers to pupils studying these subjects, such as by abolishing the English Baccalaureate.
  • Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation, working with schools to promote diversity and equality, such as by requiring all school uniform policies to be gender-neutral.

England’s young people are some of the most anxious and unhappy in the world. Schools are on the front line in dealing with children and young adults with mental health issues. We also know that children cannot learn properly if they are undernourished. We will:

  • Support school-based counselling services and dedicated staff trained in mental health in schools.
  • Extend free school meals to all children in primary education and to all children whose families receive Universal Credit.
  • Tackle bullying in schools, including bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression.
  • Reinvest in youth services, strengthening them as a statutory service to protect them from future cuts

The ability of universities to attract funding to maintain top-quality research activity and deliver the best teaching depends on being open and outward-looking. The ability to attract and retain the best staff and students in our world-class universities is vital. Brexit undermines these at every turn.

In government, Liberal Democrats established a fairer system so that no undergraduate student in England had to pay a penny of their tuition fees upfront or pay anything afterwards until they earn over £21,000 per year. This meant that only high-earning graduates would pay their tuition fees in full. We now have the highest university application rates ever, including from disadvantaged students. But the Conservatives are threatening to undermine opportunity by ending maintenance grants and raising the level of fees. We will:

  • Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, ensuring that living costs are not a barrier to disadvantaged young people studying at university.
  • Establish a review of higher education finance in the next Parliament, including the option of a graduate tax, in the light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system on access, participation and quality, and make sure there are no more retrospective raising of interest rates or selling-off of loans to private companies.
  • Ensure that all universities work to widen participation across the sector, prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and require every university to be transparent about selection criteria.
  • Campaign to stop Brexit to bring an end to the damage to student mobility and research that it is already causing, whilst instead championing the value of international staff and students to universities and promoting greater international collaboration.

eral Democrats support the need for lifelong learning. We will: We need to grow the country’s skills base, especially in the technologies and industries that are most important to Britain’s economic future. We want it to become the norm for businesses to take on and train up young people as apprentices in every sector of our economy, and for higher-level apprenticeships to be understood as a respected alternative to university education.

As our economy rapidly changes, the need for people to retrain and reskill has never been more important. It is no longer the case that the skills learnt at 18 or 21 will last throughout a career. The ability to learn new skills or change careers is also vital in creating the opportunity for people to succeed no matter their stage in life. That’s why Liberal Democrats support the need for lifelong learning. We will:

  • Increase spending on 16-19 education, including by closing the gap in per-student funding between secondary schools and further education providers.
  • Develop National Colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy, to deliver the high-level vocational skills that businesses need.
  • Identify and seek to solve skills gaps such as the lack of advanced technicians by expanding higher vocational training like foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.
  • Facilitate across the UK an effective and comprehensive system for credit transfer and recognition of prior learning and qualifications.