When Boris Johnson entered Number 10, one of his first acts was to get more money to our education system. That’s why we’re investing £14 billion in schools, including £5,000 for every secondary school pupil by next year and £4,000 for every primary school pupil by 2021-22.
But we want to go further, to make sure the UK offers pupils a world-leading education.
That’s why Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, has pledged £120m for new specialist institutes in a bid to ‘overtake Germany’ in delivering the best technical education. This education policy will ensure that all young people, whatever their background, can access higher-level technical education. Our policy will prepare young people for well paid, highly skilled jobs, and make Britain more economically productive than ever.
We’re opening more Institutes of Technology
We have already opened 12 Institutes of Technology, but too many areas of the country don’t have access to one. So we’re expanding the number of Institutes of Technology in England from 12 to 20.
Institutes of Technology offer specialised technical training at Levels 4 and 5 – above A Level but below degree level.
The extra eight new Institutes of Technology we are establishing will be in ‘cold spots’ that do not currently have access to this provision – which include built-up areas in the North West as well as the East of England, among others.
These Institutes will provide students and employers with the higher-level skills they need to drive growth and productivity across the country. A competition will ensure that only the highest-quality applications are approved.
The Institutes of Technology plans have been successful under this Government
We have already made £170 million available to the 12 new Institutes of Technology. This money means they can invest in new or refurbished buildings and equipment to train young people for the future workplace.
These new Institutes announced at Conservative Party Conference help put a stop to the perception that going to university is the only desirable route. Institutes of Technology build a system which harnesses the talents of young people and students and gives them the skills they need for high-skilled work.
We’re also giving extra funding to further education
At the recent spending review the Chancellor committed £400 million for 16-19 education in 2020-21, in addition to funding for pensions.
This funding settlement is the biggest annual increase since 2010. It will make sure that further-education providers get the support they need from the Government to provide high-quality schooling for all.
Labour oppose Institutes of Technology and would risk our children’s education
Labour oppose our plans for new Institutes of Technology. Their manifesto in 2017 stated that: ‘Labour would abandon Conservative plans to once again reinvent the wheel by building new technical colleges’. Yet there has been huge demand for more technically skilled graduates.
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said that ‘Expanding high-quality technical education and training is a top priority for employers who will welcome this extra investment’. He also said that Institutes of Technology are ‘providing higher-level skills, especially in STEM, that businesses tell us time and again they need to succeed.’
And businesses themselves have supported the policy. Derrick McCourt, the General Manager of the Customer Success Unit at Microsoft, said that these Institutes ‘will help to provide a much-needed pathway for students to develop their digital skills and practical expertise, which are vital in bridging the shortage in digital skills across the nation.’
Labour’s education policy would simply undermine education. Their plans to scrap Ofsted, scrap SATs, and scrap independent schools would weaken standards, weaken discipline, and make it harder for parents and others to evaluate the education of their children.
When Labour was last in Government, Britain 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.
We can’t let Labour risk our children’s education again. Only a Conservative education plan will give our pupils the skills and opportunities they need to excel.