The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Lizzie Gait

Election 2015: education policies compared

It’s hard enough keeping track of the government’s shifting priorities around education, but with election fever in the air, it’s nearly impossible to know what to expect. Lizzie Gait, training development lead, shares a brief summary of each party's education policy.  As a team, we at Optimus are keen to prepare as much as we can for the potential impact of a change of government at election, as well as to keep you bang up to date. Last week, we got together to discuss and analyse each party’s education policies.

Conservative Party

Much of the Conservative Party agenda is to continue with their current policies, but key focuses include:

  • further academisation
  • an increase in the free school agenda
  • a continued focus on SPAG and knowing the times tables by heart
  • a possibility of prison terms for neglecting safeguarding duties
  • a continued stress on character education and building resilience
  • plans to ‘parachute’ the best middle and senior leaders into poorly performing schools.

Green Party

Aside from the expected environmental-based policies, the green party have outlined a number of idealistic policies which, in their current form, somewhat lack depth.

  • End performance-related pay for teachers.
  • Replace Ofsted with an independent National Council for Educational Excellence.
  • Bring free schools and academies into local authority control.
  • Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) for all.
  • Abolish SATS and Year 1 phonics tests, and school leagues tables.
  • Scrap the national curriculum.
  • Limit class sizes to 20 (both primary and secondary in long run).
  • Undertake an annual school energy audit and demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint and contributing to sustainability locally.

Labour Party

Many of their main pledges aim to reverse the least popular Conservative party policies.

  • Increase education spending at least in line with inflation.
  • Schools (including private schools) to partner with weaker schools to attain ‘outstanding’.
  • Character education and resilience are high on the agenda.
  • More focus on how to get the best out of the most able and talented pupils.
  • End the free schools programme.
  • Plans to reinvigorate the status and qualifications of headteachers in England.
  • Multi-academy trusts (MATS) and academy chains will be part of the inspection regime.
  • 25 hours free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.
  • A “zero tolerance” policy on homophobic bullying.

Scottish National Party (SNP)

Much of their focus is on developing early years education and continuing current policies for a ‘Smarter Scotland’.

  • Introduce an Attainment Scotland Fund.
  • Introduce a new Early Years Fund.
  • Introduce a new legal limit for primary school class size of 18.
  • Guarantee 30 hours of free childcare a week for 3 and 4 year-olds.
  • Continue to build and refurbish schools.
  • Provide at least 25,000 more modern apprenticeships.
  • Increase teachers per pupil ratio.

UK Independence Party (UKIP)

True to form, UKIP’s policies are a mix of interesting and innovative pledges, as well as the more controversial ones.

  • More free schools that are open to the whole community and uphold British values.
  • Existing schools will be allowed to apply to become selective grammar schools.
  • Schools will be investigated by Ofsted on the presentation of a petition to the Department for Education signed by 25% of parents or governors.
  • No sex education for children under age 11.
  • Increased focus for schools on British values.
  • Ensure that the law is rigorously enforced in relation to ‘cultural’ practices such as forced marriages, FGM and so-called ‘honour killings’.
  • Scrap the target of 50% of school leavers going to university.

Liberal Democrats Party

As the other half of the current coalition government, the Lib Dems are keen to grow their more successful policies and increase their already large focus on early years education.

  • Free school meals (FSM) for all primary school pupils – an expansion of the infant FSM policy
  • 15 hours a week of free early years education to every family with a two year old.
  • Increase the Early Years Pupil Premium from £300 to £1,000 per child, per year.
  • Clearer and simpler routes for early years professionals to obtain QTS and fair pay.
  • Compulsory PSHE including sex education, financial literacy and citizenship lessons.
  • QTS for all.

By Lizzie Gait

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