Education is the key to the Country’s future. Give our young people the skills and knowledge they need and we can create a strong wealthy Country. Keep investing in those skills and we will have an adaptable work force with money in their pockets!
Our education system tests and examines too much. Of course, testing and examinations have a role to play but so do the skills of classroom teachers in using their experience in knowing which children need which help.
We want schools to be a place where children want to learn and can be supported by teachers freed from bureaucracy and artificial turnouts. There have been massive increases in the number of young people with mental health problems and teachers burning out because of the sheer pressures of a system which fails to provide employers with the skilled and trained workforce that they need.
We want to spend taxpayer’s money on teaching and schools not on armies of bureaucrats and inspectors.
Education is not just up to 16, 16 or 21. The days have long gone when people joined a profession after leaving school or University and stayed in a business for life. Technological and other advances and societal changes mean that we all need to stay in the education system until we retire for work purposes and then continue with education in our third age for pleasure purposes.
But lots needs to be done. We need to:
- Reverse school cuts with an emergency cash injection so that pupils have the resources they need to learn.
- Invest in our most disadvantaged children by giving councils more for each child with the most complex needs.
- Invest in Further Education to save our colleges and extend the pupil premium to disadvantaged students aged 16-19.
- Increase 16-19 funding. We will abolish the ‘learning tax’. Schools and 16-19 academies are entitled to have the VAT they pay refunded, but sixth-form colleges and FE colleges are not. This could boost a college’s income by 3% and be worth £100 million in total to the FE sector in total.
- Extend the pupil premium to students in 16-19 education, paying students a small proportion of the premium directly to help them with transport and other education-related costs.
- End ‘teaching to the test’ and instead support children to learn.
- Replace the existing school performance tables published online with a reformed, ‘report card’ system containing a range of qualitative and quantitative information.
- Abolish Key Stage 2 SATs and replace them with a combination of moderated teacher assessment at the end of Key Stages 1 & 2 and a low-stakes, light-touch standardised test to ensure consistency.
- Replace Ofsted with a new HM Inspector of Schools (HMIS), taking best practice from the old system of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and from competing regulators such as the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
- Ensure that schools promote equality of opportunity & community cohesion
- Introduce a clear and properly funded entitlement to high-quality professional development for all teachers – rising to the level of 50 hours per year by 2025. We will also give extra training to teachers who are required to teach subjects at secondary level where they themselves do not have a post-A level qualification.
- Give local education authorities the remit and resources to act as Strategic Education Authorities for their area, including responsibility for SEND functions, places planning, exclusions, admissions including in-year admissions.
- Allow local authorities to open new Community Schools where needed. We continue to oppose the expansion of grammar schools and will devolve all capital monies for new school spaces to local authorities.
- Introduce a clear entitlement to a ‘curriculum for life’, which will be taught in all state-funded schools. This will include Personal, Social, Health and Economic education, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, mental health education, citizenship and age-appropriate Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
- Help Children be Ready to Learn by extending free school meals to all children in primary education and to all secondary school children whose families receive Universal Credit, as well as promoting school breakfast clubs.
You can hear more about my views on education for life at https://twitter.com/i/status/1195282180391538689.
Children have only one start in life. Lib Dems are determined to make it a good one.