September 30, 2019

Why Labour’s education policy will undermine education

We are investing £14 billion into school funding to make sure our children have a world class education.

We’ve made sure that extra funding will go towards schools which have been historically underfunded. That’s because we should not accept the idea that there can be winners or losers when it comes to our children’s futures.

By contrast, Labour are putting ideology ahead of what works, and are pledging deeply unpopular education measures like scrapping independent schools, free schools, and more.

What is Labour’s education policy towards independent schools?

Labour’s education plan is again focussed around attacking independent, or private, schools.

Labour has passed an “Abolish Eton” motion at Labour’s annual party conference. Now, Labour’s education policy will introduce VAT on private education, charging parents up to £3,000 annually extra in VAT alone. For boarders, the figure is likely to be closer to £6,600.

The motion also supports removing the business rate discounts schools receive. That would cost more than 1,300 schools approximately £500 million more in tax – money that could be going to children’s education.

These plans have already been revealed in a leaked and vindictive memo last week. It’s clear from these plans that Labour are planning a war on independent schools. And the Party has left a “spectrum of options”, including abolishing independent schools altogether, on the table.

Education Minister Nick Gibb said in response to Labour’s education plan: "Instead of wasting time, effort and over £7 billion a year of taxpayers' money trying to close down schools, Jeremy Corbyn should get Labour to back Boris Johnson's plan to invest £14 billion more into our state system so that every pupil has access to a good education."

He's entirely right. Instead of focussing on improving education, Labour are yet again focussed on ideological attacks.

What’s Labour’s education policy towards Ofsted?

Yet again, Labour are putting ideology above what works, and are planning to abolish Ofsted, which provides impartial inspection information for parents.

6 in 10 parents think Ofsted is a force for improvement and a trusted judge of standards, and 9 in 10 parents know the Ofsted rating of their child’s school. People trust the adjudicator. Yet Labour wants to abolish them.

Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, said that parents will be rightfully fearful of his plans.

'What’s most disturbing about Labour’s latest proposals is that Labour haven’t even considered the impact of removing independent inspections from child social care.

Recent cases, like Rotherham, have shown local authorities regulating themselves is not the answer.

The Conservatives will always stand up for the most vulnerable while Labour pursue ideological dogma that would leave them at greater risk.'

What’s Labour’s education policy towards SATs?

Rather than continuing what works, Labour has pledged another radical reform: abolishing SATs altogether.

They made this pledge in April, though have repeated it again and more forcefully during their Party Conference this September. This radical policy was pushed most stridently by trade unions.

Labour’s education plan would weaken standards and weaken discipline, as well as making it harder for parents and others to evaluate the education of their children.

Labour’s education record: falling standards and failing students

Under Labour, we plummeted down the international league tables for school performance. Between 2000 and 2009, England fell from 7th to 25th in reading, 8th to 28th in maths, and 4th to 16th in science in the PISA league tables.

And the number of pupils sitting the core academic subjects halved under Labour. In 1997, 50% of pupils entered GCSEs in six of the core subjects covered by our EBacc subjects (including English, Maths and Sciences). This fell to just 22% by 2010.

As a result, the Wolf report in 2011 found that when children went to university they had to offer classes in basic maths for many students to make up for their gap in knowledge.

Labour’s legacy in education has been of falling standards and failing students. Only a Conservative education policy can put the country back on the road to a brighter future.

Why a Conservative education policy is providing a world-class education

Only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives can deliver the change people want, levelling up opportunity in schools across the country.

We’re giving a £14 billion cash boost for schools funding so that every child gets a good education. That translates to £5,000 for every secondary school pupil by next year and £4,000 for every primary school pupil by 2021-22. And we’re providing £700 million extra for children with special needs and disabilities next year to help give children a great education.

We’re also investing in our teachers to help recruit more into the sector and reward our teachers for their fantastic work. In the biggest reform to teacher pay in a generation, we are increasing salaries for new teachers to £30,000 by 2022-23 and fully funding increased contributions into the Teacher’s Pension Scheme. School leaders can now focus as much of their resources as possible on the front line.

As a result of our hard work, England has risen to joint eighth place in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, up from joint tenth in 2011 and the historic low of 19th under Labour. Thanks to our phonics reforms, 163,000 more six year olds are on track to become fluent readers compared to 2012.

Our hard work to improving our country’s education has given our children a world class education. Labour’s education policy, by contrast, puts all of that at threat.

Region Labour's Pension Tax (£) Extra Months to Work
England 11,167 44
East Midlands 6,150 50
Greater London 12,871 45
North East 9,758 38
North West 6,835 47
South East 14,270 40
South West 7,407 45
West Midlands 10,729 41
Northern Ireland 13,718 35
Scotland 10,653 41
Wales 11,691 36
United Kingdom 11,253 43

Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:

“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”

Read more about how this Pension Tax will impact millions of savers (PDF)

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