Labour plans to improve education standards. Plans “undermine education” say Conservatives

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Labour today (Thursday) announced a plan to improve education standards for all children after the OECD revealed on Tuesday that school children in Britain are more likely to be miserable compared with children in other countries.

However, the Conservative party have claimed that Labour’s plans would “undermine education”.

Labour Have pledged to:

  • Cap all class sizes at 30 by recruiting nearly 20,000 more teachers
  • Guarantee that every child is taught by a qualified teacher, ensuring around 25,000 currently unqualified staff are fully trained during Labour’s first term in office
  • Ensure teachers will have more time for lesson planning and professional development
  • Invest in ensuring that all school buildings are safe, with a new fund of over £7bn to tackle the backlog of vital but overdue repairs and install safety measures such as sprinklers
  • Close the gap in funding for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, with extra funding to reverse deficits in the High Needs Budget
  • Fully reverse cuts to the Pupil Premium, and increase spending on it above inflation to support the most disadvantaged pupils.

The total additional investment promised in schools over three years will amount to £25 billion compared to £14 billion promised by the Conservatives.

Labour also claimed that there are hundreds of thousands of children currently being taught by unqualified teachers who will be taught by a properly trained and fully qualified teacher under Labour’s plans.

Taken alongside the recruitment of more teachers to meet growing demand for pupil numbers, this means there will be around 50,000 more qualified teachers in our schools in 2023-24 compared to now.

This new investment follows a decade of austerity in schools, with a real terms freeze in schools funding. Labour claim that as the Conservatives have failed to invest in schools, the impact on children’s education has been clear. There are:

  • Over 600,000 children being taught by unqualified teachers, up by hundreds of thousands since 2012
  • Nearly half a million children crammed in to super-sized classes, up by 29% since 2010
  • 128 ‘titan’ primary schools with over 800 pupils, a sevenfold increase since 2010, and over 27,000 children are taught in primary schools of over 1,000 pupils. There were none in 2010.

However, the Conservative Party have countered that Labour’s education policy would simply “undermine education”. The Conservatives claim that their plans to scrap Ofsted, scrap SATs, and scrap independent schools would weaken standards, weaken discipline, and make it harder for parents and others to evaluate the education of their children.

The Conservatives also point out that when Labour was last in Government, Britain plummeted down the international league tables for school performance. Between 2000 and 2009, England fell from 7th to 25th in reading, 8th to 28th in maths, and 4th to 16th in science in the PISA league tables.

Labour have responded to these claims by saying that Labour’s plans for school spending would almost double the increase in per pupil funding being put forward by the Conservatives, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Raynor claimed that IFS data had revealed that the Conservatives’ promised spending would not fully reverse their own cuts to school budgets.

They also claimed that the Conservative manifesto did not commit to maintaining the Pupil Premium, a fund of over £2 billion to support disadvantaged pupils, leading to concerns that it could face further cuts, or even be scrapped altogether.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Labour will transform education standards in this country for every child, capping class sizes and ensuring every child is taught by a qualified teacher in a safe school building.

“We will invest in record per pupil funding, restore the Pupil Premium and close the gap in support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, to give every child the support they need.

“The Tories cannot be trusted to do this. They have slashed school funding for the first time in a generation, leaving pupils taught by unqualified teachers, crammed in to super-sized classes, and not receiving the support they need.”

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