Election 2015: The Education Pledges So Far

As May 7th looms closer, rumours of secret tax plans and accusations of public spending cuts are taking up the vast majority of Election headlines. 
Rather than you having to sift through the party manifestos, we thought we would make a condensed summary of the main pledges some of the key parties have made for Education. 
 
Conservative
 
Build at least 500 Free Schools by 2020
 
An extension of their flagship education policy and the archetype of Conservative thinking, these free schools, set up by teachers, parents or external parties are part of the bid to improve the quality of education across the country. 
 
Zero-tolerance for inadequate or failing schools
 
Described as an ‘all-out war on mediocrity’, David Cameron pledges that both primary and secondary schools under the Ofsted categories of ‘Requires Improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’ could be converted to academies and given new leadership.
 
School Funding per Pupil
 
The Conservatives are pledging to protect school funding per pupil, although David Cameron has admitted that it could fall in real terms. Under the coalition government, it has been extremely well-protected, however the school population between 2016 and 2020 is expected to rise 7%. 
 
Labour
 
Cutting University Fees by £3,000
 
Perhaps the most controversial pledge in Labours’ Education policy and subject to the most criticism, the party are promising to take the current £9,000 university fees down to £6,000. 
 
Increase Education Spending in line with Inflation 
 
Ed Miliband has promised that the Department for Education’s annual budget of £58 billion will be protected in real terms for 0-19 year olds, including SEN. 
 
Guaranteed Childcare from 8am to 6pm
 
The Labour party are promising childcare for the parents of primary school children between 8am and 6pm, whilst expanding free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 25 hours per week (from 15 per week). 
 
Liberal Democrats 
 
Protect the Education Budget
 
A common theme in the party manifestos, David Laws claims that this is the number one priority for the Liberal Democrats in Education, promising that although cuts need to be made; they won’t be from schools.
 
15 Hours of Free Childcare for 2 Year olds 
 
Following the success of giving 15 hours of free early education to all 3-4 year olds, Nick Clegg is now promising 15 hours a week of free childcare to every family with a 2 year old. 
 
Core Curriculum
 
The Liberal Democrats would set up an Educational Standards Authority that would take over responsibility for curriculum changes, which would initially be set by subject experts who are independent of the government. 
 
UKIP
 
Allow Schools to Become Grammar
 
Backing Grammar Schools as a vehicle for social mobility, UKIP pledge to deemphasise the weight of the 11+ test and focus on attainment across the academic year. 
 
Removing Tuition Fees for Approved Science, Maths & Tech Degrees
 
Tuition fees for students taking pre-approved degrees in Science, Technology and Maths related degrees (subject to conditions and academic performance) will be scrapped. Paul Nuttall says that this is to address the skills shortage in the sectors. 
 
Parents and Governors can Trigger Ofsted Inspections
 
UKIP promise that if 25% of parents and governors signed a petition expressing concern over a school, it would have the power to trigger an inspection from Ofsted. 
 
Green Party
 
Scrap all Tuition Fees
 
Not only would all university tuition fees be scrapped, but any outstanding debts, specifically issues by the Student Loans Company would be written off. 
 
Abolish Ofsted
 
The Green Party claim that Ofsted causes stress to teachers and is an expensive, unreliable and inefficient system. In replacement will be a National Council of Educational Excellence which is a collaborative system of teachers and local authorities. 
 
Integrate Grammar Schools into Comprehensive system
 
Grammar schools will be integrated into a comprehensive system of local schools, offering mixed ability teaching, whilst free schools and academies would be gradually brought in under local authority control. 
 
What are your thoughts on these parties’ key pledges? Achievable and pragmatic or unobtainable and impossible? Or perhaps your ideal education manifesto would be a combination of pledges? Let us know your thoughts on Social Media! 
 
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