Labour will “ignore the appeals for the status quo on private school tax breaks or an outdated national curriculum”, Sir Keir Starmer has pledged today.
In a speech that did not include any new schools policy announcements, the Labour leader praised teachers for their work during the RAAC crisis and warned teaching assistants were among those turning to food banks during the cost of living crisis.
The party has pledged to remove the current exemption from paying VAT and business rates from private schools, which it believes will raise more than £1 billion to be spent on state education.
An incoming Labour government would also reform the curriculum with a “greater emphasis on creativity and resilience”.
During his speech, which was initially interrupted by a protester who showered Starmer with glitter, the Labour leader pledged a “mission government”, focused on “long-term national renewal”.
‘Prize of public sector reform is huge’
“People will say ‘don’t rock the boat, we’ve always done it like this, is this really necessary?’ I’ve reformed a public service before. I know how it goes. But it’s our responsibility to do it. And across our public services the prize is huge.
“If we ignore the appeals for the status quo on private school tax breaks or an outdated national curriculum, then we can have mental health staff in every school, expert teachers in the classroom, more creativity, speaking skills, confidence. Shatter the class ceiling at source.”
The Labour leader also took aim at the Conservative government, including over the cost of living crisis and the widespread disruption to schools because of crumbly RAAC concrete.
“I don’t just see the crumbling concrete in our schools, I see the teachers in the temporary classrooms still giving our children the education they need,” he told delegates.
“That’s the real Britain. Millions of people who’ve looked at the Tory government, and said, fine, we’ll get on with it ourselves.”
He also warned that teaching assistants were among those “who find themselves walking a little more slowly past the food bank in their town”.