Snap General Election 2017: 5 key things schools need to know
Theresa May has called a snap election on June 8th this year, stating it was required to “guarantee certainty and security for years ahead”.
She previously said a snap general election was not something she wanted, but said this morning that division in Westminster “will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit”.
So what does this mean for schools?
1. Grammars to play a big part
May’s pledge to scrap the ban on new grammar schools will almost certainly form a key part of the Conservative Party’s manifesto.
The proposals have proved contentious, even within May’s own party, but if the Conservatives win a majority on a pro-grammars manifesto, it will be easy much for them to pass laws ending the ban on new grammar schools. That’s because rebel MPs will be compelled to vote in favour of it, and the House of Lords cannot block it.
A white paper outlining specific plans around grammar schools was due to be published in the coming weeks. It is not known if it will be released before June.
2. Dwindling school funding & the national funding formula likely to feature
The debate over dwindling school funding is likely to be a major issue for both parties.
Stagnating funding and rising cost pressures are currently pushing schools to cut staff, their curriculum, and ask parents for donations to help out.
Scores of MPs have called for more cash to schools, but the government has so far refused to pledge extra revenue funding.
The Conservatives are also in the process of introducing a new funding formula to address historic regional differences in school funding. These plans are now likely to slow down. A response to a consultation was due but will likely be replaced by a manifesto commitment to carry out the formula as planned.
Labour will also have to outline how they plan to fund schools in the future.
The Conservatives could also include an adjusted free schools target in their manifesto. Their current pledge to open 500 more free schools runs until 2020, and no announcement of numbers past that have been revealed.
3. Prepare for a raft of new education policies
Opposition parties will now have to draw up their own detailed education policies.
Labour has already revealed proposals to extend universal free school meals to all primary pupils, and charge parents VAT on private school fees to pay for it.
They will now likely be pushed to outline plans for school funding, teacher recruitment and technical education.
(If you’re interested, here are the election education policies for all policies from the 2015 election: https://t.co/o1RoBFqE3A
4. Thousands of schools will now have to close TWICE this year for elections
Thousands of schools will now have to close twice this year as they turn into makeshift polling stations. As well as the general election, there is also the local government elections on May 4.
Schools Week revealed last year that one in six schools were impacted by the general election in 2015. The majority of schools were primary.
Also, as one Twitter user pointed out, there already appears to be a GCSE maths exam slated for June 8th
@SchoolsWeek were many of them secondaries? this is the day of the 2nd maths paper of the new GCSE
— JustMaths (@Just_Maths) April 18, 2017
5. Another period of purdah could thwart failing schools getting help quickly
Purdah is the period before an election where public bodies have to act in a politically neutral manner. It ran from March 30 right up until the May election in 2015.
As Schools Week reported then, failing schools had to pass a “public interest test” before getting government help. Civil servants were told there had to be a “genuine need” to make an immediate decision.
Regional school commissioners couldn’t enter into new funding agreements for academies during purdah – which could delay new schools opening.
Bonus points: The best of the rest ….
Readers have since asked for our take on some other ongoing issues – chiefly, publication of the delayed Ebacc consultation findings, the government’s white paper response, and the primary assessment consultation – so here we are:
Ebacc and white paper: The first thing to point out, there is no binding agreement the government has to publish its responses to both these consultations. It might be easier for the government to now include one, or both, in its manifesto for the upcoming election, and not publish consultations.
Primary assessment: The consultation is still ongoing (you can submit your response here). It is massively unlikely this will be stopped – but a response and the future of the proposals will now fall under the new government.