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General Election 2024: Education and Party Manifestos


In the run-up to next month’s general election, the main political parties have published their manifestos, detailing their plans for education should they come into power. Here are the main education proposals from each party.

The Conservative Party

  • Protecting “day-to-day” school spending in real terms per pupil.
  • Rebuilding 500 schools through the existing School Rebuilding Programme
  • The expansion of “strong academy trusts”.
  • “Protect” parents’ choice on where to send their child to school, including preserving the rights of independent and grammar schools.
  • Lift the cap on faith schools, allowing them to offer more places to children based on faith and encouraging them to expand.
  • Make guidance on banning mobile phones statutory, funding will be provided for schools to help them ban phones “where they need it”.
  • Building on their current plan, continue to work with schools and local authorities to improve school attendance, including through more mental health support.
  • Legislate to create a register of children not in school.
  • Deliver 60,000 more school places and a further 15 new free schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
  • A commitment to back Ofsted to provide clear judgements to parents on the quality and safety of schools.
  • Expansion of the recruitment and retention premium including teachers in priority areas and key Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) and technical subjects receiving bonuses of up to £30,00 tax-free over five years.
  • Introduce the Advanced British Standard to replace A levels and T levels.
  • Support teachers to use tried and tested techniques, including the current phonics programme and their “mastery approach to maths”, enabling every child to master the basics before they start secondary school.
  • Support for children in their transition to secondary school
  • Ensure children continue to receive a broad and enriched education during and after-school including.
  • Mandate two hours of PE every week in primary and secondary schools, supported by extending the PE and sport premium to secondary schools.
  • Increase funding for School Games Organisers to get more competitive sport into and between schools and work with sporting bodies to create more UK-wide school competitions like National Finals.
  • Introduce new legislation to ensure “parents have a right to see what their child is being taught in school”. This builds on the already updated relationships, sex and health education guidance, which introduced age limits on what children should be taught.

The Labour Party

  • Recruit 6,500 new specialist teachers in subjects facing a shortage
  • Provide support to tackle recruitment and retention challenges, including the reinstatement of School Support Staff Negotiating Body 
  • Review the allocation of bursaries and the structure of retention payments.
  • Update the Early Career Framework ensuring all new teachers have, or are working towards, qualified teacher status (QTS).
  • Ensure teachers stay up to date on best practice with continuing professional development through a new teacher training entitlement.
  • Introduce a new report card system, replacing single-word Ofsted grade judgements.
  • Introduce Ofsted inspections of multi-academy trusts.
  • Introduce a new annual review of safeguarding, attendance and off-rolling.
  • The launch of an “expert-led review” of the curriculum and assessment, consulting with school staff, parents, and employers The reforms will aim to develop a “rich, broad, inclusive, and innovative curriculum”, while maintaining a balanced and effective assessment system.
  • Create a new Excellence in Leadership Programme, a mentoring framework that expands the capacity of headteachers and leaders to improve their schools.
  • New Regional Improvement Teams, which will aim to “enhance school-to-school support and spread best practice”.
  • Support children to study a creative or vocational subject until they are 16, and ensure accountability measures reflect this
  • Launch a new National Music Education Network - a one-stop shop with information on courses and classes for parents, teachers and children.
  • Labour will end the VAT exemption and business rates relief for private schools and use the funds raised for state-school spending.
  • Take a community-wide approach, improving inclusivity and expertise in mainstream schools, as well as ensuring special schools cater to those with the most complex needs
  • Ensure school admissions decisions account for the needs of communities and require all schools to cooperate with their local authority on school admissions, SEND inclusion and place planning.
  • Provide access to specialist mental health professionals in every school.
  • Create 3,000 new primary school-based nurseries through upgrading space in primary schools.
  • Fund free breakfast clubs in every primary school, accessible to all children.
  • Improve the quality of maths teaching across nurseries and primary schools.
  • Limit the number of branded items of uniform and PE kit that schools can require to bring down the cost of schooling.
  • Fund evidence-based early language interventions in primary schools.

The Liberal Democrats

  • Put a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every primary and secondary school Increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation every year
  • Invest in new buildings and clear the backlog of repairs.
  • Redirect capital funding for “unnecessary new free schools” to help clear the backlog of school repairs.
  • Introduce a ‘Tutoring Guarantee’ for every disadvantaged pupil who needs extra support
  • Extend free school meals to all children in poverty, with an ambition to extend them to all primary school children when the public finances allow
  • Tackle bullying in schools by promoting pastoral leadership and delivering high-quality relationships and sex education.
  • Expand provision of extracurricular activities, such as sport, music, drama, debating and coding, starting with a new free entitlement for disadvantaged children.
  • Invest in high-quality early years education and close the attainment gap by giving disadvantaged children aged three and four an extra five free hours a week
  • Tripling the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 a year
  • Review the rates paid to early years providers for free hours to ensure they cover the actual costs of delivering high-quality childcare and early years education.
  • Developing a career strategy for nursery staff, including a training programme with the majority of those working with children aged two to four to have a relevant Early Years qualification or be working towards one. Thos will include a specific emphasis on identifying and supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Creating a teacher workforce strategy to ensure that every secondary school child is taught by a specialist teacher in their subject
  • Reform the School Teachers’ Review Body to make it “properly independent” of government and able to recommend fair pay rises for teachers
  • Fully funding teacher pay rises every year.
  • Fund all teacher trainee posts, including training on effective parental engagement
  • Establish a standing commission to build a long-term consensus across parties and teachers to broaden the curriculum and make qualifications at 16 and 18 “fit for the 21st century”.
  • Improve the quality of vocational education, including skills for entrepreneurship and self-employment.
  • Strengthen careers advice and links with employers in schools and colleges.
  • Include arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate
  • Give power to Ofsted to monitor the curriculum so that schools continue to provide a rich curriculum including subjects like art, music or drama.
  • Reform Ofsted inspections and end single-word judgements
  • Implement a new parental engagement strategy, including a regular, published parent survey and guidance for schools on providing accessible information to parents on what their children are learning.
  • Tackle persistent absence by setting up a register of children who are not in school, and working to understand and remove underlying barriers to attendance.
  • Give local authorities extra funding to reduce the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • Establishing a new National Body for SEND to fund support for children with very high needs.
  • Give local authorities with responsibility for education the powers and resources to act as Strategic Education Authorities for their area, including responsibility for places planning, exclusions, administering admissions including in-year admissions, and SEND functions.
Emma Balchin & Emma Knights, Co- Chief Exectuives, NGA, said:

“The release of the political party manifestos shows that while education is a notable feature, the needs of the sector are not currently reflected enough or at the forefront of policy drives from our major political parties.

The National Governance Association (NGA) urges the next government to address the critical issues facing our education system as a priority, not as an afterthought. Schools are performing well and holding the ground where other services have failed or collapsed entirely - there should be no assumption they can keep doing this indefinitely. For our children and young people to not become casualties of the political and economic hurdles that are now so widely referenced, there are pressing matters that demand immediate attention to ensure a sustainable and equitable future for the incredible service schools give to society day in and day out. We ask any party that claims victory on 5th July to develop a comprehensive, long-term plan for staff pay and incentives, address inequalities in recruitment, retention, and development, and take urgent action to modernize school estates and promote environmental sustainability.

NGA's manifesto highlights the importance of governance, sustainability, technology, and family engagement in our education system. It is a clear call to action for the government to actively implement these proposals, ensuring they meet the needs of all young people and communities.

From classrooms to communities: a manifesto for schools and trusts