Labour manifesto 2019: the full list of schools policies

The Labour Party’s official manifesto for the 2019 general election has officially been launched this morning in Birmingham.

Besides the party’s school spending plans and a few other nuggets, the document is mostly made up of pledges either made in 2017 or announced since.

Here’s what’s in there for schools.


Schools policies in the manifesto

1. A £10.5 billion increase in the schools budget by 2022-23

2. A fairer funding formula “that leaves no child worse off”

3. Maximum class sizes of 30 for all primary school pupils

4. Scrapping key stage 1 and 2 SATs and baseline assessments, refocusing assessment on “supporting pupil progress”

5. £160 million arts pupil premium to fund arts education for every primary school child (cost rises to £175m by 2023-24)

6. A review of the curriculum to ensure that it “enriches students and covers subjects such as black history and continues to teach issues like the Holocaust”

7. Bringing free schools and academies under the control of parents, teachers and local communities

8. Giving schools control over budgets and day-to-day decisions, overseen by “an accountable governing body with elected representatives”

9. Putting councils in charge of admissions and allowing them to open schools

10. Putting NES regional offices in charge of delivery and co-ordination of schools, including peer-to-peer improvement based on the London Challenge

11. A common rulebook for all schools, set out in legislation

12. Replacing Ofsted with a new body “designed to drive school improvement”

13. A teacher supply service to tackle wasted money going to private agencies

14. Making schools accountable for the outcomes of pupils who leave their rolls

15. “Proper regulation” of all education providers

16. Reform of alternative provision

17. Extending free school meals to all primary school children

18. Encouraging breakfast clubs

19. Tackling the cost of school uniforms

20. The return of the school support staff negotiating body and national pay settlements for teachers

21. Closing the tax loopholes that currently apply to private schools

22. Charging VAT on private school fees

23. Tasking the Social Justice Commission with advising on the integration of private schools and the creation of a comprehensive education system


Other policies that affect schools

1. A 5 per cent pay rise for teachers, support staff and all other public sector workers in April 2020

2. A network of mental health hubs and 3,500 professionals to give every child access to a school counsellor

3. 4,500 more health visitors and school nurses

4. A ban on fast food restaurants near school sites

Your thoughts

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  1. The polcy on revisiting the SSSNB for teachers and support staff is certainly welcomed. After a lot of work was put into this from 2004/05, the incoming conservative Government under the direction of the then Education Minsiter Michael Gove, literally at the stroke of pen stopped everything overnight. this was known as the bonfire of the Quangos. Pay has drastically fallen behind for non-teaching staff and set against austerity cutbacks within the profession, it is, in my view also welcomed that we star to earn the pay that we deserve to get.

  2. There is no justification for the attacks against “private” schools. Many are small village independents, nothing to do with the image portrayed by Labour.
    The changes will raise prices and price some families out, meaning kids will have to leave their schools and friends.
    No policy should ever hit children, ever.
    This is pure spite politics, nothing more, and is wholly unnecessary and cruel.
    What horrible people indeed.

  3. Mark Watson

    “We will end the fragmentation and marketisation of our school system by
    bringing free schools and academies back under control of the people who
    know them best – parents, teachers and local communities.”

    What does this actually mean – can anyone shed light on this?

    Firstly, giving control to parents, teachers and local communities sounds more like a free school than a local authority school.

    Who will own the school land and buildings, who will employ the teachers, who will enter into contracts for electricity, books, supplies etc?

    Taking that further, and on the basis that it can’t be talking about how local authority schools are run, is the Labour Party proposing that the 15,000 odd schools that haven’t converted to academy status should also be passed to parents, teachers and local communities?

    Will academy trusts be abolished, or are we talking about this group of parents, teachers and local communities being installed as a sort of replacement for the Regional Schools Commissioners, overseeing the trusts?

    After all these years of teasing us with promises of a National Education Service I don’t think it’s too much to expect a little bit of detail.

    • It is all a load of ill thought through nonsense. It is a complete contradiction to say you want to shut down private schools on one hand (which lets face it they hope VAT will be the first step towards) yet give control of other schools to parents and local communities. Such ill thought out nonsense the lot of it. Trying to bamboozle the public with supposed promises. As you say -no detail!

    • I’ve no idea. And I’m uneasy about the word ‘control’. Multi-academy trusts control their schools; LAs don’t (despite all the hype to the contrary). It appears, then, that Labour is proposing moving schools under the control of MATs to another, as yet undecided, group.

      You’re right to be concerned about land ownership. We already have a situation where land bought by the taxpayer is transferred to the trusts running many free schools and some academies. It’s something that’s been niggling me for some time.

      You’re also right to worry about what groups would be chosen to run former academies and who would do the choosing. What about due diligence?

  4. Does labour realise that charging VAT on school fees will have no impact on the mega rich. It is those who are making sacrifices to scrape the fees together and just about affording it who will be priced out. Ironically these children will be needing places at state schools – can you afford for extra children at state schools? These parents were previously effectively paying twice and relieving the burden on the state sector. Sadly those implementing and supporting this idiotic pledge are only going to impact themselves and hard working middle earners. If they could not put two and two together and come up with this then I fear many other pledges supposed to help the masses will be ill thought through too. Well done.

  5. C. Barrow

    How do I tell my 3 boys they can no longer go to their schools?
    We’ve made many sacrifices to get our boys into private school and every year can only just about afford to keep them there. An additional 20% will cost us in excess of £8.5k a year which we simply cannot afford. We will be pushed into the state sector.
    But how will local state sector cope with this increased demand? All 4 local state secondary schools are full – so where will our children be sent? Being pushed into the state system, will result in our having no choice but simply having to accept any school that has a space. I’m sure you can appreciate the apprehension this creates.
    We’ve made choices for our children’s education based on the information we had available at the time – we chose the private route because we wanted to give our children the gift of education. Both my wife and I were state educated, both come from working class backgrounds, and we both wanted to give our children the best possible start. But you’re about to massively move the goal posts, changing the fee structure so extremely that we will be forced to take that gift away – MERRY XMAS BOYS!
    So ripped out of their good school with a network of great friends, our boys will find themselves in a state school with vacancies, victims of a political ploy that makes out its their fault that the state system is underfunded. How can you, with a clear conscience tell your audiences this is fair?
    Your 20% plan will only hurt those children whose families are struggling. Rather like your tax plans labelled “hurting the billionaires” – you wont touch the billionaires, you will hurt the working families of this country.
    The political party I once loved now plans to hurt my children. Your price of change starts with hurting children, and judging by your economic plans, that same generation will go on paying for your SPEND SPEND SPEND plans for the rest of their lives.
    Yes we need to end austerity, yes we need to invest in our country, yes we need to stop Brexit – but why do you have to do it by directly hurting children? Let’s hope the good people of the UK will see through your plans, and you lose because if they don’t, mine and many other children will.

  6. John Hipkin

    What exactly does Labour plan to do with private schools if it comes to power? Talk of ending their charitable status suggests their continued existence will be tolerated but they will be penalised financially, but elsewhere it emerges that a Labour government would straightforwardly nationalise the private schools and their assets and make them part of an enlarged state sector. Labour has also said that it does not want to unload onto the state system 600,000 extra pupils from the private sector since the extra financial burden would cripple the education budget. So what is the fate of private schools under Labour: survival under harsher conditions or extinction?
    I was interested to know how Labour might pull off this new approach to integration. since in the sixties I had been part of a research team to assess the impacts on pupils from diverse social backgrounds of obliging public schools to enrol a high proportion of state school pupils. After closely examining the few integration schemes already in being, we concluded that the ethos of the public schools made it highly unlikely that Anthony Crosland’s integration scheme would work and the idea was dropped.
    Labour’s current strategy, insofar as it can be understood, is a good deal more radical than Anthony Crosland’s. Instead of transplanting state school pupils into private schools, the independents would simply be absorbed into the state sector. Were that to happen it is hard to see the point of scrapping the schools’ charitable status since nationalising them would of itself end their distinctive status and current entitlements. These confusions apart, what chance is there that Labour’s plans would work?
    For a start it is questionable whether the proposals would comply with the Charities Act 2011 which stipulates that “in the exercise of its functions the (Charity) Commission is not subject to the direction or control of any Minister of the Crown or of another government department”. Furthermore, Labour’s plan to restrict parental choice in education could breach the European Convention on Human Rights. These and other legal objections, would see litigation running on long enough to prevent a Labour government from removing the charitable status of independent schools in their first budget and might see implementation delayed to a time close to a general election when governments grow nervous of introducing their more radical policies. And what to make of Labour’s threat to ‘redistribute their endowments, investments and properties to the state sector’? The nationalisation of private schools’ assets would land Labour’s new administration into a legal quagmire and would, if compensation was close to being fair, cost as much as might be gained from ending their charitable status .
    A more important question is would Labour’s proposals advance social justice? I think not since educational inequality operates and would continue to operate within the state system even if it became universal. Better-off families already live in or move into desirable catchment areas, or daily transport their children to desirable schools in distant parts of town, or can produce the plausible ‘faith’ or other entrance credentials that help get their children into top state schools. And even in undistinguished schools, streaming, setting and other forms of academic distinction benefit middle class children by separating them from their ‘slower’ or more disruptive classmates. Those who can manipulate the system to their children’s advantage are therefore not only as ‘privileged’ as those who pay for independent schooling, they are also a good deal more savvy. After all they pay nothing extra for the benefit that good state schools provide, while independent school parents, in addition to hefty fees, pay taxes which in part finance a state system from which they and their children derive no direct benefit.

    On the question of whether private schools endow their pupils with special privileges, what form do these alleged advantages take? Independent school parents are, by definition, ‘privileged’ since most belong to higher socio-economic groups and, by dint of their relatively high incomes, can afford, in addition to costly school fees, a wide range of other purchasable benefits: more and better quality living space, better diet, access to a wider range of sporting and cultural activities, and so on. The advantage they derive from independent education, in the form of better A-level grades or access to better universities and better paid jobs, is not so much a product of the kind of schooling their children have; it is an integral feature of their already privileged social status. No matter which schools middle class children attend, their life chances are conditioned by their socio-economic status. After all class goes deeper than what people have for breakfast or whether they holiday in Corsica or in Clacton or send their children to the local comprehensive or an independent day school on the other side of town; class is principally about the unequal distribution of wealth and income, about wide differences in people’s ability to purchase the ‘good things’ in life and about the consequences for aspiration and achievement that flow from those differences.

    Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone argue persuasively that class divisions in the UK, compared with other countries, are excessive and socially damaging. How, they ask, can it be healthy for a society to be made up of, on the one hand, a large and growing underclass and on the other a tiny and ever wealthier elite. If we are serious about reducing inequality in the UK surely, they argue, we should reverse current trends and take up Scandinavian policies of redistributive taxation and progressive welfare systems and by raising the earnings floor. By these routes people would enjoy more opportunity and choice in every aspect of their lives, and choosing to buy an independent education would be considered no more remarkable than any other life style choice.

    One possible explanation for the popularity of independent schooling in the UK, despite a higher level of spending on state education than in most comparable countries, is that the class system, with all its malign social effects, persuades better off parents to cough up hefty fees to save their children from, as they see it, the ill-effects of socially mixed schooling. That ‘class disease’ will not be cured by abolishing Independent schools, since middle class networking and manoeuvring would ensure that familiar patterns of privilege are reproduced within the state education system. If we are serious about achieving greater educational equality we need to take on board the messages of The Spirit Level and address the deeper issues of how extreme social and economic inequality reinforces class divisions and disfigures our national life. The task, then, of a radically reforming political party is not to tinker with the private education system but to introduce a wide range of policies that seriously reduces social and financial inequality in this country.

    Author: John Hipkin