December election 2019: What does it mean for schools?

Parliament has approved plans by the government to hold an election on December 12.

So what does this mean for schools?

 

1. Schools face election closures for THIRD time in a year

Schools that are used as polling stations have already had to close twice this year – for council and European Parliament elections in the spring.

Now they face having to close their doors again, causing more disruption for staff, pupils and their families.

Schools Week analysis of the 2015 general election found one in six schools had to close or partially close as ballot boxes moved in.

 

2. Reorganised nativities and carol concerts

The election will fall in the last week of term, just when schools are preparing to stage their annual nativity plays and carol concerts.

Schools earmarked for use as polling stations with events scheduled for December 12 face having to cancel them, or move them to different venues or to alternative dates.

 

3. Paused academy decisions

During the pre-election “purdah” period, the government isn’t allowed to make any decisions or announcements that could be considered political.

This means no academy orders will be approved, nor decisions about movement of academies between academy trusts.

Consultation responses and other expected policy decisions will also be delayed until after the election.

 

4. Fewer Ofsted reports

Ofsted is also affected by purdah, and so has to scale back its publication schedule while the pre-election period is in effect.

This means no focused inspections of multi-academy trusts will be published, or inspection reports for local authority children’s services.

Purdah will also prevent Ofsted from publishing any commentary or research reports, and will likely delay its annual report until January.

However, the watchdog anticipates its standard school inspection reports won’t be affected.

 

5. What the politicians will be promising

The election campaign will offer the parties an opportunity to make some noise about their existing policies, and come up with some new ones.

Expect the Tories to talk about grammar schools, though probably just more places rather than more schools, and their shiny new school funding commitment.

The party is also likely to make a big deal out of its plans to raise teachers’ starting salaries to £30k, and will probably say something about widening access to independent schools.

Labour will undoubtedly come out with a new pledge on school funding, given their 2017 pledge has now been superseded by Johnson’s plans.

Existing pledges also include to reform the academies system, abolish Ofsted and scrap SATs. But the party will need to find a palatable policy on private schools to please the abolitionists and the rest of the sector.

The Lib Dems, like Labour, have pledged to scrap Ofsted and SATs.