The Liberal Democrats would increase per pupil funding for schools above inflation every year, increase and extend the pupil premium and reform exams, inspections and the curriculum if they form a government.
A motion to the party’s conference, approved today, sets out the party’s “core policy offer” on schools. It will now be adopted as official policy as the party prepares for the next election.
Also set out in the motion are plans for a new “teacher workforce strategy” to ensure every secondary pupil is taught by a “specialist teacher in their subject”. The party also said it would fund teacher training “properly so that all trainee posts in school are paid”.
A Lib Dem government would “urgently establish a standing commission to build a long- term consensus across parties and teachers to broaden the curriculum and make qualifications at 16 and 18 fit for the 21st century, drawing on best practice such as the International Baccalaureate”.
Like Labour, the party would also replace Ofsted’s single-grade judgments with “report cards” showing the “strengths and weaknesses” of a school.
They would also ensure inspections “deliver a complete evaluation of the whole school, including attainment, discipline, curriculum breadth, teacher workload, provision for children with SEND and mental ill health, and suitability of the workforce to deliver the curriculum”.
The party has not provided full costings for the policies – it has said it will do this when it releases its full manifesto. But the policy of cutting schools’ SEND contributions in half would cost £1.2 billion, which is more than the total of pledges made so far by Labour.
Here’s the full list of schools policies confirmed today.
- Increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation every year.
- End the scandal of crumbling school and college buildings by investing in new buildings and clearing the backlog of repairs.
- Reverse Conservative cuts to the Pupil Premium and free school meals, and introducing a Young People’s Premium for those aged 16-18.
- Put a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every school.
- Extend free school meals to all children in primary education and all secondary school children whose families receive Universal Credit, and automatically enrolling eligible children.
- Address the underfunding and neglect of children’s mental health services, youth services and youth justice services, so that less of the burden falls on schools.
- Create a teacher workforce strategy to ensure that every secondary school child is taught by a specialist teacher in their subject.
- Reform the School Teachers’ Review Body to make it properly independent of Government and able to recommend fair pay rises for teachers, and fully funding those rises every year.
- Fund teacher training properly so that all trainee posts in school are paid.
- Introduce a clear and properly funded programme of high-quality professional development for all teachers, including training on effective parental engagement.
- Urgently establish a standing commission to build a long- term consensus across parties and teachers to broaden the curriculum and make qualifications at 16 and 18 fit for the 21st century, drawing on best practice such as the International Baccalaureate.
- Include arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate and give power to Ofsted to monitor the curriculum so that schools continue to provide a rich curriculum including subjects like art, music or drama.
- Replace single-grade judgements with report cards that show parents the true strengths and weaknesses of each school.
- Ensure that inspections deliver a complete evaluation of the whole school, including attainment, discipline, curriculum breadth, teacher workload, provision for children with SEND and mental ill health, and suitability of the workforce to deliver the curriculum.
- Introduce annual safeguarding and financial check- ups, separate to Ofsted, to ensure consistent good governance.
- Require Ofsted to work with schools, providing the guidance and support they need to improve, rather than simply changing governance.
- Expand provision of extra-curricular activities, such as sport, music, drama, debating and coding, starting with a new free entitlement for disadvantaged children.
- Implement a new parental engagement strategy, including a regular, published parent survey and guidance for schools on providing accessible information to parents on what their children are learning.
- Give local authorities extra funding to halve the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s EHC plan.
- Establish a National Body for SEND to fund support for children with high needs.
- Require all AP settings to be registered.
- Support the education of children in care, extend Pupil Premium Plus funding to children in kinship care, and guarantee any child taken into care a school place within three weeks, if required to move schools.
- Support the education of children in temporary accommodation by extending Pupil Premium Plus funding to them.