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2017 Manifesto – Equal access to education

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We believe there is compelling evidence that, as with healthcare, access to high quality education is beneficial to society and to the economy. It should be viewed as an investment, not a cost. Education is a basic right and public good and should be free to all.

Schools are suffering severe funding cuts and difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers, especially in core subjects like Mathematics, English and Science.

Budget cuts have led schools to cut wider curriculum areas such as the arts and music and this is impoverishing children and young people’s educational experience. School buildings are being left unrepaired through lack of funding and this causes health and safety risks. Parents are regularly being asked to make financial contributions to their children’s schooling - not just for extras but for basics.

  • The marketisation of further education and higher education should end. This includes an end to student fees and student loans.
  • The cuts to school budgets must be reversed and schools provided with sufficient funding to meet the needs of all their pupils, including those with special educational needs.
  • Funding for Sure Start should be restored. The 1% cap on teachers’ pay should be removed. The Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 year olds should be restored.
  • There should be free school meals, of good nutritional standard, for all school children.
  • The shortage of primary school places must be urgently addressed and we support the need for smaller class sizes.
  • The policy of encouraging Free Schools and Academies should be abolished, and the money be spent more fairly and equitably across the system.
  • The policy of creating new Grammar Schools should be halted, and funds used to improve the quality of all secondary schools.
  • The teaching profession should have a greater role in the policy-making process and the structure and functioning of the education system, as well as the national curriculum.
  • Exercise including sport should play a major role in schools, with education about healthy lifestyles a key part of the curriculum.
  • We call for support and development for genuine apprenticeships, especially in advanced technology areas, manufacturing and infrastructure industries such as building.
  • We call for a substantive programme for adult further education and learning.
  • We call for a serious review of whether the educational provision for medical and care staff at all levels is sufficient for the future needs of the nation and its NHS, and call for any shortcomings to be addressed.