The Labour Party has made a number of announcements unveiling education plans should they win at the next general election. Speaking on the final day of the Labour Conference, Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson MP said that Labour was committed to building “a future where children come first” and that closing the gap among children and young people was the only way to “build that fairer society of which we all dream”.
It was announced that Labour would seek to introduce breakfast clubs for every child in every primary school in England. It was also announced earlier at the conference that the careers advice and work experience system would be targeted, with reform aimed at the apprenticeship levy, with Sir Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Opposition, stating this could in turn “give employers new flexibility to invest in world class training they need”
Meanwhile Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan MP told Schools Week at the conference that Labour would not be “meddling with structures” or support forced academisation, but instead target academy accountability and bring forward “a really ambitious education bill early on”.
Emma Knights, chief executive at the National Governance Association said:
The focus on breakfast clubs for every primary school pupil is welcome. NGA’s 2022 annual governance survey showed that almost all schools (95%) offer additional services to families with breakfast provision already among the top three most frequently offered services. A more universal approach to breakfast provision would support families themselves while also creating the opportunity for parents to access work where childcare is otherwise unavailable or unattainable. Evidence shows that children who go to school hungry face disruption to their learning. With one in three school aged children growing up in poverty not currently eligible for free school meals, the provision of a nutritious meal at the start of the day for every primary school child has the potential to make a difference.
The importance of children and young people having access to a holistic careers education offer cannot be understated and the school is an essential vehicle in its delivery. This needs to be focused on creating opportunities for pupils to interact with external providers and employers, giving them a tangible experience of what they can expect and what they need to do to reach and succeed in their chosen careers. While NGA has been a long-term advocate of the benefits schools can achieve working together, under one single governing structure, it is right that the decision to join a group of schools should remain with the school’s governing board after exploring the benefits to their pupils.