Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Education election pledges

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At the three main political party conferences this autumn, education ministers and shadow ministers were keen to clarify their parties' policies on education.

The Liberal Democrats have said they would do the following:

  • Introduce a pupil premium of an additional 2.5 billion for the poorest and most educationally disadvantaged pupils - immediately for one million children and extended to 2.5 million children within one Parliament.

  • Allow schools to spend the pupil premium on cutting class sizes, boosting one-to-one tuition, financial incentives for teachers to work in the most challenging schools, extended school days or after-school tuition and holiday support.

  • Scrap the 600-page National Curriculum and replace it with a slimmed-down minimum curriculum entitlement.

  • Slim down the system of national testing.

  • Introduce a general diploma, to be taken by all pupils, incorporating GCSEs, A levels and existing proven vocational qualifications - very similar to the ASCL model.

  • Introduce sponsor-managed schools to replace academies, restoring strategic local authority oversight and commissioning.

  • Pass an education freedom act which would devolve power from central government.

  • Introduce a new pupil right to move from school to college or work-related learning provider at age 14.

  • Establish an Independent Educational Standards Authority to replace the QCDA and Ofqual.

  • Cut the DCSF by half.

The Conservatives have indicated that they are already drafting an education bill for after the election. Among other policies, the Tories have said they would:

  • Extend the academies programme and make it easier for parents, charities and businesses to set up academies.

  • Create networks of schools based on the Swedish model.

  • Give all schools the ability to set pay and conditions for teachers and make it easier for heads to dismiss underperforming teachers.

  • Introduce a pupil premium that provides additional funding for disadvantaged pupils.

  • Simplify the National Curriculum, reform Key Stage 3 SATs and abolish the QCDA.

  • Eliminate or significantly downsize most education quangos, including Becta, NCSL, TDA, Children's Commissioner, Teachers' TV, School Food Trust and STRB.

  • Require all teachers to have at least a 2:2 degree.

  • Allow state schools to offer exams such as the IGCSE and ensure that all pupils focus on a "stretching academic programme" up to 16.

  • Do away with the phase 4 diplomas.

  • Stop the raising of the participation age to 18.

  • Reduce bureaucracy by drawing up a list of education policies to be withdrawn.

The main elements of the current government's next education bill are contained in the July white paper Your Child, Your Schools, Our Future. This was covered in depth in the September Leader and contains proposals for a pupil and a parent guarantee.

See the ASCL Council report for the outcome of an ASCL debate on the guarantees.

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