Miliband’s education speech to focus on class sizes, standards and qualified teachers

A tighter cap on class sizes, higher standards, qualified teachers and a raised status of vocational education will all feature prominently in Ed Miliband’s education speech today.

The Labour Party leader will make the key speech at Haverstock School in North London, which he attended from 1981 to 1988, and will mostly cover old ground, re-emphasising existing party policies such as the establishment of new director of standards roles and ensuring teachers work towards qualifications.

Mr Miliband will also talk about “character and resilience”, echoing comments made by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan last year.

Questions have already arisen over comments he is expected to make about capping class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds, with commentators claiming the cap at 30 pupils is already in place apart from in very specific circumstances.

Mr Miliband will say: “Successful teaching and classroom discipline is made harder when classes are so much bigger.

“Since 2010, the number of the youngest children taught in classes bigger than 30 has gone up by almost 60,000. It is treble the number it was. And it is set to get far worse.

“Currently, the government is spending money on new free schools in areas where there are surplus places. This simply makes no sense when class sizes are rising in the way they are. Or when people can’t get their kids into the good schools they want.

“So by ending the scandalous waste of money from building new schools in areas of surplus places, we will create more places where they are needed.

“This will allow us to cap class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds at no more than 30 pupils.”

Mr Miliband will claim that regional standards challenges will raise performance under a Labour government, and that ensuring all teachers qualify and improving the status of vocational education will give everyone a “passport to a good life”.

He will said: “My vision for education is shaped by my belief in equal opportunity, built for the modern world. It is based on the idea that education gives people a passport to a good life. A means not just of learning but of earning a decent living, transcending circumstance, understanding how to be part of a community and venturing into new worlds.”

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