From Mike Coyne



Labour and Education             Crowborough branch discussion November 2017

Philosophically differences  between Tory and Labour

The Market : State or Private?

In every area you can see the Tory government trying to break institutions into small units ripe for selling off

  • Schools- L.E.A s role diminishing and we have more and more academies and academy chains. Free schools to fill in gaps in provision; but Eastbourne? cost efficent?
  • University – no caps on students/ bright students at universities; universities can have their own fees ; successful will grow; less successful ( old Polys and teaching training colleges) will potentially wither on the vine
  • break the “blob” as famously described by Gove of the education professionals

Cut Public Sector costs ; impact on support for the deprived?

  • funding for schools well below inflation
  • sure start reduced for younger children
  • cut EMA to 16-18 year olds
  • want to get rid of free school meals.
  • stopped all university maintenance grants
  • where free places offered for childcare often not enough provision

Accountability? Present situation

  • Ofsted reports ( criticism not support) and league table data can cause Heads to be sacked and never enough leeway given for level of deprivation faced in schools
  • new GCSE grades distinguish between the high and very high achievers but do nothing for the lower levels
  • take the curriculum back to the 50s/early 60s- demeaning and decreasing of vocational qualifications. Nick Gibb influenced by E.D Hirsch (teacher led academic body of knowledge against doing and engaging)
  • curriculum determined by accountablity measures ( EBACC) not what the students want to study. Arts subjects and vocational subjects in decline

Discussion  point. Should education policy focus on social mobility or decreasing inequality. Is the former spoken about too much at the expense of the latter?

Where are we now and what should Labour policies be?

First the good news from the election failure by the Tories

  • put a stop to more Grammar schools,
  • prevented every school having to be an academy,
  • free school meals maintained for infant children
  • tuition fees such a strong issue that something likely to be done on this in the November budget
  • also been a very small uplift in financial support for schools.

Labour manifesto 2015  said  education is about empowerment and lifelong learning and so a crucial part of any Labour appeal to the public.

(Very interesting aspect of the build up to the election. The impact of the “flatcash” Heads movement. As many as 750,000 said their vote was heavily influenced by the education funding situation.  Constant Collegial action, coordinated with modern and traditonal media works a treat)

As we stand the big issues are school funding  /recruitment and retention/  student loans/ skills agenda in post Brexit Britain/ providing enough child care places /support for deprived at all levels/universities staying ahead of the world in post Brexit scenario.

Discussion point :What should Labour’s education priorities be  post- brexit?

A good starting point to look at the Labour manifesto. Very little to disaggree with . Looks very expensive.

Education policy Institute

In the Labour Party Manifesto, we conclude that the policies which are likely to have a beneficial impact on education outcomes include:

  • A planned real terms per pupil increase in school funding of around 6 per cent over the next parliament, including additional money to remove the public sector pay cap for teachers, which will help teacher retention and recruitment compared with a scenario of continued real pay declines.
  • Introducing a National Funding Formula in which no schools would lose funding;
  • Parity of funding for 16-18 year-olds which would put them on a more equal footing with 11-16 year-old pupils;
  • A pledge for a new SEND strategy, to help vulnerable learners, combined with extra resources to tackle mental health issues in schools; and
  • Some planned steps to raise the quality of early years education.

However, we have also identified several areas of concern in the Labour manifesto, where available evidence suggests that policy proposals are not well based in evidence or could harm outcomes, including:

  • No clear strategy to improve capacity in the early years to deliver an expensive increase in provision which could therefore deliver only modest impacts on attainment;
  • A risk that the pledge to enforce infant class sizes at 30 or fewer could either result in significant capital costs or compromise parental choice, without clear benefits for attainment;
  • The huge proposed cost of abolishing tuition fees – Labour’s largest manifesto pledge – badly targets some of the country’s most significant educational challenges.
  • The opposition to a baseline assessment, which may risk development of a more rational accountability system for schools.
  • Significant funding risks linked to revenue raising assumptions, around higher income tax rates for top earners and significantly higher corporation tax yields.


Discussion point : looking at the labour manifesto what should be the priorities?

(We have to be realistic about available finances. point of view in the Guardian recently that if Labour get in and want to spend X million on public services but Brexit is going to cost the same x million ask the British  people which  they want?)

Labour EDucation Policy  in the 2017 manifesto


Education is what empowers us all to realise our full potential.



When it fails, it isn’t just the individual that is held back, but all of us. When we invest in people to develop their skills and capabilities, we all benefit from a stronger economy and society.

At a time when working lives and the skills our economy needs are changing rapidly, governments have the responsibility to make lifelong learning a reality by giving everyone the opportunity to access education throughout their lives.

To meet this responsibility, Labour will create a unified National Education Service (NES) for England to move towards cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use. The NES will be built on the principle that ‘Every Child – and Adult Matters’ and will incorporate all forms of education, from early years through to adult education.

When the 1945 Labour government established the NHS, it created one of the central institutions of fairness of the 20th century. The NES will do the same for the 21st, giving people confidence and hope by making education a right, not a privilege, and building bridges where the Conservatives build barriers.

Under the Conservatives, the free hours entitlement is chronically under-funded, with provision patchy and hard to navigate. Many providers now simply refuse to participate in the scheme. The result is that many parents aren’t even getting the hours they’re entitled to.

Labour would:

  • Overhaul the existing childcare system in which subsidies are given directly to parents who often struggle to use them, and transition to a system of high-quality childcare places in mixed environments with direct government subsidy.
  • Maintain current commitments on free hours and make significant capital investment during our first two years of government, to ensure that the places exist to meet demand.
  • Phase in subsidised provision on top of free-hour entitlements, to ensure that everyone has access to affordable childcare, no matter their working pattern.
  • Transition to a qualified, graduate-led workforce, by increasing staff wages and enhancing training opportunities. This will benefit staff, who are among our worst-paid workers, and improve child development.
  • Extend the 30 free hours to all two- year-olds, and move towards making some childcare available for one- year-olds and extending maternity pay to 12 months.

Sure Start, and the support it gives to vulnerable and hard-to-reach parents, was one of the great achievements of the previous Labour government, but under the Conservatives 1,200 Sure Start centres have been lost. Labour will halt the closures and increase the amount of money available for Sure Start.

Education is what empowers us to realise our full potential


Conservative cuts are starving schools of the funding they need to deliver a first class education. Crippling underfunding is driving up class sizes and forcing schools to cut corners. A narrow curriculum and a culture of assessment is driving away teachers, creating a recruitment and retention crisis.

Labour will not waste money on inefficient free schools and the Conservatives’ grammar schools vanity project. Labour does not want a return to secondary moderns. We will also oppose any attempt to force schools to become academies.

Labour’s schools policy will be built on the following four foundations:

  • Investment – we will make sure schools are properly resourced by reversing the Conservatives’ cuts and ensuring that all schools have the resources they need. We will introduce a fairer funding formula that leaves no school worse off, while redressing the historical underfunding of certain schools. Labour will also invest in new school buildings, including the phased removal of asbestos from existing schools.
  • Quality – we will drive up standards across the board, learning from examples of best practice, such as Labour’s London Challenge, to encourage co-operation and strong leadership across schools. We trust in teachers and support staff professionalism to refocus their workload on what happens in the classroom.
  • Accountability – Labour will ensure that all schools are democratically accountable, including appropriate controls to see that they serve the public interest and their local communities. We will require joined-up admissions policies across local schools to enable councils to fulfil their responsibilities on child places, to simplify the admissions process for parents and to ensure that no child slips through the net.
  • Inclusion – Every child is unique, and a Labour-led education system will enable each to find their learning path through a wide choice of courses and qualifications. We will invest in measures to close the attainment gap between children from different backgrounds.

To give all children the best start in life, we will reduce class sizes to less than 30 for all five-, six-, and seven- year-olds, and seek to extend that as resources allow.

To aid attainment, we will introduce free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.

We will abandon plans to reintroduce baseline assessments and launch a commission to look into curriculum and assessment, starting by reviewing Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs. The world’s most successful education systems use more continuous assessment, which avoids ‘teaching for the test’.

We will tackle the teacher recruitment and retention crisis by ending the public-sector pay cap, giving teachers more direct involvement in the curriculum, and tackling rising workloads by reducing monitoring and bureaucracy.

We will also consult on introducing teacher sabbaticals and placements with industry to encourage interaction between education and industry and introduce broad experiences into the classroom.

We will reintroduce the Schools Support Staff Negotiating Body and national pay settlements for teachers.

We will put £150 million back into supporting our children in schools by scrapping the Conservatives’ nonsensical plans for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy.

We will extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health, at a cost of £90 million per year.

And we will deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity, and embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, children and their parents are properly supported.


At a time when technology is changing demand for different kinds of skills, and evolving patterns of work mean that people are more likely to pursue several careers during their working lives, it is crucial that our education system enables people to upskill and retrain over their lifetimes. As part of our dynamic industrial strategy, lifelong training will deliver productivity and growth to the whole economy while transforming the lives of individuals and communities.

To ensure that we deliver for every part of the UK, we will devolve responsibility for skills, wherever there is an appetite, to city regions or devolved administrations.

Further and Adult Education

Despite claiming to be committed to delivering high-quality training, the Conservatives have ruthlessly cut funding for FE colleges – our main provider of adult and vocational education – and reduced entitlements for adult learners. This has led to diminishing numbers of courses and students, and plunged the sector into crisis.

Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in Further Education (FE) colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life.

Our skills and training sector has been held back by repeated reorganisation, which deprives providers, learners and employers of the consistency they need to assess quality. Labour would abandon Conservative plans to once again reinvent the wheel by building new technical colleges, redirecting the money to increase teacher numbers in the FE sector.

We share the broad aims of the Sainsbury Review but would ensure vocational routes incorporate the service sector as well as traditional manufacturing, working in tandem with our broad industrial strategy to deliver for the whole economy.

We will improve careers advice and open up a range of routes through, and back into, education, striking a balance between classroom and on-the-job training, to ensure students gain both technical and soft skills

To implement the Sainsbury recommendations, we would correct historic neglect of the FE sector by giving the sector the investment – in teachers and facilities – it deserves to become a world-leading provider of adult and vocational education.

More specifically, we would:

  • Bring funding for 16 to18-year-olds in line with Key Stage 4 baselines, while ensuring that the budget is distributed fairly between colleges and school sixth forms
  • Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds from lower and middle income backgrounds
  • Replace Advanced Learner Loans and upfront course fees with direct funding, making FE courses free at the point of use, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.
  • Drive up quality and consistency in the FE sector by:
  • Encouraging co-operation and leadership across colleges and sixth forms, improving curriculum breadth and quality
  • Setting a target, backed up by funding, for all FE teaching staff to have a teaching qualification within five years.
  • In recognition of the role played by private-sector providers, we would extend support for training to teachers in the private sector
  • Increase capital investment to equip colleges to deliver T-levels and an official pre-apprenticeship trainee programme.


Employer-led training is the most effective way of meeting our growing skills gap. Labour supports the apprenticeship levy, but will take steps to ensure that every apprenticeship is of a high quality.

Labour will:

  • Maintain the apprenticeship levy while taking measures to ensure high quality by requiring the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to report on an annual basis to the Secretary of State on quality outcomes of completed apprenticeships to ensure they deliver skilled workers for employers and real jobs for apprentices at the end of their training. And we will work with the devolved administrations to improve the operation of the levy
  • Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022
  • Give employers more flexibility in how the levy is deployed, including allowing the levy to be used for pre-apprenticeship programmes
  • Guarantee trade union representation in the governance structures of the Institute of Apprenticeships
  • Protect the £440 million funding for apprenticeships for small-and medium-sized employers who don’t pay the levy
  • Set targets to increase apprenticeships for people with disabilities, care leavers and veterans, and ensure broad representation of women, BAME, LGBT and people with disabilities in all kinds of apprenticeships
  • Consult on introducing incentives for large employers to over-train numbers of apprentices to fill skills gaps in the supply chain and the wider sector
  • Reverse cuts to Unionlearn
  • Set up a commission on Lifelong Learning tasked with integrating further and higher education.


Labour believes education should be free, and we will restore this principle. No one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt.

There is a real fear that students are being priced out of university education. Last year saw the steepest fall in university applications for 30 years.

Since the Conservatives came to power, university tuition fees have been trebled to over £9,000 a year, and maintenance grants have been abolished and replaced with loans.

The average student now graduates from university, and starts their working life, with debts of £44,000.

Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.

University tuition is free in many northern European countries, and under a Labour government it will be free here too.

Chris Hinton Nov 17

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