Election 2015: What The Conservative Party say about Education

Direct from the manifesto

As part of our informative service leading upto the UK 2015 General Election, we are noting what the different main parties say about Education in their Manifestoes, with the publication of The Conservative Party noted here. For non-UK readers, the education promises here only apply to schools, colleges and universities within England, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own parliaments which look after their education provision. The full Conservative Party Manifesto is available by clicking here, but this is what they say in their section about Education…

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Screen Shot 04-14-15 at 02.08 PMGiving your child the best start in life

Our commitment to you:

Your child deserves the best start in life. A good education is not a luxury; it should be a right for everyone. We will:

  • ensure a good primary school place for your child, with zero tolerance for failure
  • turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy and deliver free schools for parents and communities that want them
  • help teachers to make Britain the best country in the world for developing maths, engineering, science and computing skills
  • create 3 million new apprenticeships and make sure there is no cap on university places, so we have aspiration for all.

We know what works in education: great teachers; brilliant leadership; rigour in the curriculum; discipline in the classroom; proper exams. We have been bold in reforming the education system to deliver these things, based upon simple, clear principles and values. We believe that parents and teachers should be empowered to run their schools independently. We believe that teaching is a highly skilled profession, and that we need to attract the best graduates into it. And we believe that there is no substitute for a rigorous academic curriculum to secure the best from every pupil.

We inherited a system where far too many children left school without the qualifications and skills they needed. One in three children was leaving primary school unable to read, write and add up properly. The number of pupils studying the core academic subjects at GCSE had halved. Our schools had fallen down the global league tables for maths and science. And the poorest children were attending the weakest schools.

Our far-reaching education reforms have changed this. We have brought high standards back to teaching, discipline back to schools, and challenging subjects back onto the curriculum. Today, there are a million more pupils in schools rated by Ofsted as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. Over a thousand schools that were ranked ‘inadequate’ have become Academies, bringing in new leadership to promote discipline, rigour and higher standards.

There are over 250 new free schools – set up and run by local people – delivering better education for the children who need it most. We have boosted the number of apprenticeships to record levels – 2.2 million over the last five years – and last September more people headed off to university than at any time in history. Too many children, however, are still not receiving the excellent education that they deserve. So we will continue our reforms, so that every child has the best possible start in life.

Our plan of action:

We will drive up standards in your child’s school

We have made exams more rigorous and ended grade inflation. There is more to do. We will start by introducing tough new standards for literacy and numeracy in primary schools. We will expect every 11-year-old to know their times tables off by heart and be able to perform long division and complex multiplication. They should be able to read a book and write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar. If children do not reach the required standards in their exams at the end of primary school, they will resit them at the start of secondary school, to make sure no pupil is left behind. We will require secondary school pupils to take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography, with Ofsted unable to award its highest ratings to schools that refuse to teach these core subjects.

We will ensure there is a good primary school place for your child, with zero tolerance of failure

We have more than doubled Labour’s spending on new school places. But we want to go even further, investing at least £7 billion over the next Parliament to provide good school places. And we will let our best headteachers take control of failing primary schools, by expanding the National Leaders of Education programme.

We will turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy, and deliver free schools if parents in your area want them

Over 4,000 schools are already benefiting from academy status, giving them more power over discipline and budgets. And nearly 800 of the worst-performing primary schools have been taken over by experienced academy sponsors with a proven track record of success. This is improving education for our children. So we will continue to expand academies, free schools, studio schools and University Technical Colleges. Over the next Parliament, we will open at least 500 new free schools, resulting in 270,000 new school places. And we will introduce new powers to force coasting schools to accept new leadership. Any school judged by Ofsted to be requiring improvement will be taken over by the best headteachers – backed by expert sponsors or high-performing neighbouring schools – unless it can demonstrate that it has a plan to improve rapidly. We will continue to allow all good schools to expand, whether they are maintained schools, academies, free schools or grammar schools.

We will continue to protect school funding

Over the last five years, we have protected the schools budget and committed £18 billion for new school buildings, so that children can learn in the best environment possible. Under a future Conservative Government, the amount of money following your child into school will be protected. As the number of pupils increases, so will the amount of money in our schools. On current pupil number forecasts, there will be a real-terms increase in the schools budget in the next Parliament. We will continue to provide the pupil premium, protected at current rates, so that schools receive additional money for those from the poorest backgrounds. We will support families by providing free meals to all infants. And we will make schools funding fairer. We have already increased funding for the 69 least well-funded local authorities in the country, and will make this the baseline for their funding in the next Parliament. We will not allow state schools to make a profit.

We will back your child’s teachers

We have already given teachers greater disciplinary powers. In the next Parliament, we will expect every teacher to be trained not just in how to tackle serious behaviour issues, but also in how to deal with the low level disruption that stops children from learning properly. This generation of teachers is already the best-qualified ever. In future, we will recruit and keep the best teachers by reducing the time they spend on paperwork, introducing bursaries for the most in-demand subjects, paying good teachers more, further reducing the burden of Ofsted inspections and continuing to encourage the growth of Teach First. We will increase the number of teachers able to teach Mandarin in schools in England, so we can compete in the global race. We want teachers to be regarded in the same way as other highly skilled professionals, so we are supporting the creation of an independent College of Teaching to promote the highest standards of teaching and school leadership.

We will lead the world in maths and science

We have increased the time schools will spend on maths, and ensured that children learn to code as soon as they start school. Maths is now the most popular A-level subject. We aim to make Britain the best place in the world to study maths, science and engineering, measured by improved performance in the PISA league tables. To help achieve this, we will train an extra 17,500 maths and physics teachers over the next five years. We will make sure that all students are pushed to achieve their potential and create more opportunities to stretch the most able.

We will protect children

Every child deserves a warm, loving home, and to feel safe online and at school. We have made improving support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities a priority. We have created 2,200 more special schools places through our free schools programme, introduced a coordinated assessment process to determine a child or young person’s needs, and funded degree-level specialist training for teachers and support staff. And to make sure it’s working, Ofsted now formally inspects local areas for their effectiveness in fulfilling their new duties. We have made progress in reforming our adoption system, but there is more to do. We will introduce regional adoption agencies, working across local authority boundaries to match children with the best parents for them. We will continue to raise the quality of children’s social work, by expanding training programmes, such as Frontline, and creating new opportunities to develop the next generation of leaders in the field. We will continue to tackle all forms of bullying in our schools. And we will stop children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age verification for access to all sites containing pornographic material and age-rating for all music videos.

We will improve skills training

We have given employers much more control over apprenticeship courses, so they teach skills relevant to the workplace. We will continue to replace lower-level, classroom-based Further Education courses with highquality apprenticeships that combine training with experience of work and a wage. We will ensure there is a University Technical College within reach of every city. We will abolish employers’ National Insurance contributions on earnings up to the upper earnings limit for apprentices under the age of 25. And we will roll out many more Degree Apprenticeships, allowing young people to combine a world-class degree with a world-class apprenticeship.

We will improve Further Education

We will continue to improve Further Education through our network of National Colleges, which will provide specialist higher-level vocational training in sectors critical to economic growth. We will publish more earnings and destination data for Further Education courses, and require more accreditation of courses by employers.

We will ensure that if you want to go to university, you can

This year, for the first time, over half a million people have been admitted to our universities, including a record proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. From September, we will go even further, abolishing the cap on higher education student numbers and removing an arbitrary ceiling on ambition. Our reforms to university funding mean you do not have to pay anything towards tuition while studying, and only start paying back if you earn over £21,000 per year. We will ensure the continuing success and stability of these reforms, so that the interests of both students and taxpayers are fairly represented. We will also introduce a national postgraduate loan system for taught masters and PhD courses. We will ensure that universities deliver the best possible value for money to students: we will introduce a framework to recognise universities offering the highest teaching quality; encourage universities to offer more two-year courses; and require more data to be openly available to potential students so that they can make decisions informed by the career paths of past graduates.

We will ensure that our universities remain world-leading

We will maintain our universities’ reputation for world-class research and academic excellence. Through the Nurse Review of research councils, we will seek to ensure that the UK continues to support world-leading science, and invests public money in the best possible way. And we will encourage the development of online education as a tool for students, whether studying independently or in our universities.

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