Over the next few weeks we shall be examining some of the proposed education policies made by UK political parties in the lead up to the General Election on the 6th May.
The Conservative Party, it would be fair to say, have made a number of changes to the English education system whilst they have been in government over the past five years. They have continued and widely expanded the previous government’s policy policy of allowing local authority schools to covert to academy status. They have allowed groups of parents, NGOs and other bodies to open free schools. Conservatives have attacked what they viewed as a culture of low standards, particularly in regards to A Levels and GCSEs. They have focused on the need for subject knowledge in lessons and introduced a requirement for all teachers to promote British Values, amongst other reforms.
The two Secretary of States for Education have been busy to say the least. So it seems, from the manifesto at least, that the conservatives are planning to consolidate rather expand. They want to test all 11 year olds to ensure they have reached an acceptable standard of English and Maths proficiency, tests which pupils will have to repeat if failed. They also want to expand further the academy programme, schools which receive ‘Requires Improvement’ from Ofsted will be pressured to convert to academy status. Apart from these two announcements, the Conservatives aren’t proposing too much grand policies. They mention ‘protecting the schools budget’ (which isn’t the same as the education budget), reducing teacher workload and investing in more science and maths teachers. There is little on further and higher education beyond promises for more data and a promise to end caps on student courses at university.