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 UKIP 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 UKIP Manifesto is available by clicking here, but this is what they say in their section about Education…
It is morally wrong that five independent fee-paying schools should send more students to Oxbridge than the worst performing two thousand secondary schools combined and that more students from the state sector attended Oxbridge in the 1960s than do so now.
We believe it is the duty of the state to ensure high quality education is provided for all. To achieve this, we will build our education policy upon three key principles: –
- Education must be responsive to individual needs Children have widely different aptitudes and capabilities and, crucially, they develop at different rates. Our school system and our whole approach to education should be more flexible than it is now.
- Good teachers are paramount The quality of education is almost entirely dependent on the quality of teaching. We need the best people to choose to teach and we need to keep them teaching. To achieve this, we must ensure not only that teachers are well-prepared for a teaching career, but also that they have a high status in society and feel valued.
- The importance of primary education A child’s first experience of education is vitally important, as this is when the pattern for learning is laid down and when literacy and good social skills are established.
CUTTING TEACHERS’ WORKLOAD
Too many teachers are working excessive hours and struggling to find an acceptable work-life balance. We do not want stressed, overworked teachers in our classrooms. Their workloads must be eased.
We will decrease the amount of paperwork teachers deal with, such as overly detailed individual lesson plans, data collection, excessive internal assessments and dialogue- based marking schemes. The plethora of centralised targets will be streamlined and lesson observations limited to a maximum of one each term, except when there are concerns about teaching performance that appraisal processes have been unable to address. Enforcing the current restriction on class sizes to thirty pupils and aiming to reduce this to twenty-five pupils over time, will further ease teacher workloads – not least when it comes to marking – as well as ease parental concerns about large class sizes. We will scrap teachers’ performance-related pay, which the NUT describes as having ‘increased bureaucracy and working hours’ and does not adequately reflect teaching ability.
UKIP will abolish Key Stage 1 SATs, set at the age of seven, as these tests have destructive, unintended consequences: they encourage ‘teaching to the test,’ they narrow the curriculum and, often, they put pressure on teachers to concentrate disproportionate resources and time on borderline pupils. Worst of all, these tests create anxiety for everyone – children, teachers, parents, school governors – at exactly the time when children should be learning to learn, to enjoy the experience and to think of school as a fun and rewarding place to be.
To increase the uptake of science learning at secondary level, we will follow the recommendations of the Campaign for Science and Engineering and require every primary school to nominate (and train, if necessary) a science leader to inspire and equip the next generation. This role will also help to address the gender imbalance in the scientific subjects.
We support age-appropriate sex and relationship education at secondary level, but not for primary school children.
There is a world of difference between teaching young children about online safety or telling them no one else is allowed to touch the private parts of their body, which is a sensible way to help prevent and encourage reporting of abuse and going into too much detail. The latter risks sexualising childhood, causing confusion and anxiety, and encouraging experimentation. We will also rule that all parents must be made fully aware of the sex education teaching materials being used, before their children see it, and we will continue to respect their right to withdraw children from sex-education classes if they wish.
UKIP will push for a range of different types of school, including grammar, vocational, technical and specialist secondary schools within a geographical area. This will make our secondary school system more responsive to the differing aptitudes, capabilities and speed of development of our children.
In stark contrast to the other main parties, who have persistently campaigned against them, UKIP supports grammar schools. Demand for places far outstrips supply and UKIP will give existing secondary schools the opportunity to become grammar schools.
Many pupils learn best in a rigorous academic environment and the system can improve social mobility for able children from poorer backgrounds. We want to foster academic education among bright poorer students still further, and ultimately, UKIP wants to see a grammar school in every town.
We recognise that the old 11+ selective system was not perfect, so we will ensure attendance is not based on a one- time fixed test and introduce transfer examinations taken later at ages 12, 13 and 16, to pick up pupils who develop in an academic direction, but at a slightly slower pace.
As well as allowing existing schools to become grammar schools, we will allow other establishments to become vocational schools or colleges similar to those promoted in Germany and The Netherlands, so pupils develop practical skills.
Further, by linking vocational schools and colleges with industry, we will introduce an option for students to take an apprenticeship qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs. Students can then continue their apprenticeships past the age of 16, working with certified professionals qualified to grade their progress.
With regard to secondary education, we will also:
- Reintroduce the Intermediate tier at GCSE Mathematics, to ensure Foundation and Intermediate tiers are skills-based and that the Higher tier is a rigorous preparation for A Level
- Abolish the AS level exam as a stepping stone to a full ‘A’ level, while retaining it as a standalone qualification in its own right for those who choose to approach it as such. If young students want to take a full ‘A’ level, they may as well start the essential in-depth learning immediately and escape the stressful treadmill of continuous examinations from 16 onwards. This move has the additional advantage of releasing an extra six weeks of lessons during the summer term between GCSEs and A levels
- Make First Aid training a statutory part of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) in the national curriculum. We will learn from the French system where pupils can obtain a ‘Basic Life-Saving Diploma’ at the end of secondary school. This will include instruction in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for all secondary school pupils
- Fund all secondary schools according to a single formula, taking into account Special Educational Needs, to ensure underfunding such as that for secondary moderns in the 1950s can never be repeated.
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS (SEN)
The policy of closing special schools will be reversed. Every child is unique and the needs of each child should come first. Those who learn better in a tailored, non-mainstream environment should have the opportunity to do so.
Ofsted inspections will be streamlined to focus on the quality of teaching, learning and the overall wellbeing of children, rather than paperwork, school policies or tick-box targets. Inspections will be shorter, classroom-orientated, and more transparent. We will continue to monitor British values, but with a view towards combatting extremism and radicalisation, rather than criticising widely-held Judeo- Christian beliefs.
Teachers with at least fifteen years’ successful classroom experience will be prioritised when Ofsted inspectors are recruited: teachers are right to question whether they should be judged by those who have less classroom experience than themselves.
Schools will be subject to additional investigations by Ofsted if 25 per cent of parents or governors present a petition to the Department for Education.
An independent body will hear complaints about an Ofsted inspection. We will remove Ofsted’s right to investigate itself.
Previous government policies of pursuing higher education targets and introducing tuition fees have had a crippling effect on our young people’s finances and job prospects. The average student now leaves university with a debt of £44,000, yet students are less likely to find a graduate-level job than ever before. 47 per cent of recent graduates were ‘under-employed’ in 2013, as opposed to just 37 per cent in 2001. This marks a 27 per cent increase in the inability of graduates to get a job utilising or requiring their degree qualification.
The taxpayer fares little better: 45 per cent of all student loans have to be written-off. To combat this growing problem, UKIP will drop the arbitrary 50 per cent target for school leavers going to university. We will not increase the current level of undergraduate courses until we can be sure there are sufficient vacancies in the economy to provide at least two-thirds of students with skilled graduate jobs.
We will also encourage students to choose careers that will help fill the current skills’ gap, to both benefit Britain and set them on the path to a solid, prosperous career.
UK students taking approved degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM), mainly at universities funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, will not have to repay their tuition fees. This is on condition that they work in their discipline and pay tax in the UK for at least five years, after they complete their degrees.
Accordingly, UKIP will adjust the number of STEMM subjects funded to allow for a greater uptake of these subjects.
We are currently obliged to give tuition fee loans to EEA students as a condition of our EU membership, but as of March 2013, only 11 per cent of EU domiciled students were making any repayments. As student loans include a huge subsidy from the taxpayer and because repayment rates are so low, we will not give tuition fee loans to EEA students when we leave the EU. They will of course be welcome to apply for places at UK universities as self-supporting international students.
UKIP supports the right of parents to home-school their children, if they choose to do. We will support and fund free schools, provided they are open to the whole local community, uphold British values and do discriminate against any section of society.