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Education sector: what changes will a Labour government bring?

The Labour Party's manifesto has a few things for schools and colleges to look out for. Most are contained in the ‘break down barriers to opportunity’ section and reflect Labour's view that the education system is struggling to cope and that teachers are leaving “in droves”. 

It says that it will transform the education system by: 

  • Improving childcare and early years education by opening an additional 3,000 nurseries through upgrading space in primary schools. 
  • Improving the curriculum by bringing subjects “alive with knowledge-rich syllabuses” and creating learning that is “rich, broad, inclusive and innovative”. It wants to improve the teaching of maths and will support early language interventions in primary schools and, more widely, help children to develop digital, speaking and creative skills. 
  • Reforming how children are assessed: Labour intends to review the current exam and assessment system. It aims to get the balance right between exams and other methods of assessing progress. 
  • Enhancing Ofsted inspections by replacing a single headline grade with a new report card system which clearly informs parents how schools are performing. It will also bring multi-academy trusts into the inspection system and introduce a new annual review of safeguarding, attendance, and off-rolling.
  • Improving SEND provision by “improving inclusivity and expertise in mainstream schools” and ensuring that special schools focus on those with the most complex needs. 

Labour wants to tackle teacher shortages by:

  • Recruiting 6,500 new expert teachers into shortage subjects and supporting areas that face particular challenges in attracting staff.
  • Enhancing the status of teachers by ensuring that new teachers work towards Qualified Teacher Status and introducing a new Teacher Training Entitlement to help teachers stay up to date on best practice and get access to continuing professional development courses.
  • Creating an Excellence in Leadership Programme which includes mentoring arrangements for headteachers and leaders.
  • Reinstating the school support staff negotiating body to improve terms and conditions of all support staff working in schools.

It aims to reform the FE sector by:

  • Setting up Skills England to focus on providing high-quality vocational and technical education. This initiative aims to create a highly trained workforce equipped with practical skills relevant to the job market and will work with the Migration Advisory Committee to help identify areas with skills shortages.
  • Changing the focus of further education colleges to become learning centers of technical excellence. They will work with businesses, trade unions and local government to provide young people with better job opportunities and the skills to meet the needs of local economies.

… and will support children by:

  • Funding free breakfast clubs in every primary school to ensure that children are not starting the day hungry.
  • Improving mental health support by providing access to specialist mental health professionals in every school. This will be complemented by plans to create community Young Futures Hubs to provide children and young people with drop-in mental health support.
  • Making school uniforms more affordable by limiting the number of branded items of uniform and PE kit that schools can ask parents to provide.

We've focused on Labour's proposals because all of the polls indicate that it is likely to form the next government.

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