TES Pre-election debate 2015 - Part 1

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On Wednesday 11th March EdComs Teachers attended the TES Pre-election debate to hear the three main political parties outline their vision for education and schools and convince teachers to vote for them. Each party was given the opportunity to speak for 5 minutes to put their case forward, before the debate was opened up to questions from the audience. 

Before proceedings began, TES had conducted a survey of those attending asking ‘which political party has the best policies on education?’  The results were: Labour – 63%, Conservative – 20% and Liberal Democrats – 17%. They also asked who they thought would win the election and the response was: Conservatives – 20%, Labour – 18%, Liberal Democrats - 1%, Other – 9% and Coalition - 52%. Would the results be different following the debate?

As it’s not possible to condense everything covered on the evening into one blog post, I’ve split it into two. This one summarises what each party had to say about their plans for education should they win the election, and the one which follows outlines theirs responses to questions from the audience on a number of key issues.

So, to begin, here’s a summary of what each party had to say:

Conservatives - The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Education Secretary

Summary tweet: “Preparing young people for life in modern Britain. Trusting professionals. Raising standards. Improving discipline and empowering parents”

  • Every child having a good or outstanding local school to attend.
  • Teaching core knowledge, encouraging pupils to develop skills and experiences and instilling ‘fundamental’ British values in order to produce ‘well-rounded’ young people.
  • Attract, recruit and retain high quality teachers.
  • Following a period of reform, feels the profession needs a period of stability and time for ‘bedding in’ the recent changes.
  • More Academies, Free schools, UTCs and studio schools
  • A "school-led, self-improving system"

Labour – Tristram Hunt MP, Shadow Education Secretary

Summary tweet: “Early Years investment to tackle inequality, a world class teacher in every class to raise standards, vocational reform to upskill Britain”

  • Education = skills and understanding, gaining a cultural inheritance, socialisation, enjoyment, academic and emotional capacity, character and endeavour.
  • Tackling engrained inequality, which will be achieved by investing heavily in Early Years.
  • Committed to securing the entire education budget in real terms.
  • Move away from “relentless structural reform”.
  • Roll out the London Challenge principal across the country – schools working together to raise standards.
  • Technical and vocational education – committed to a Technical Baccalaureate, English and maths to 18, high quality apprenticeships, FE colleges with strong links to local industry and business.
  • Restore Ofsted to being politically independent.
  • “Massive devolution of power” to LAs
  • “We need the arts and design in the curriculum; these are 21st century skills”

Liberal Democrats – The Rt Hon David Laws, Schools Minister

Summary tweet: “Protect the entire education budget, invest in Early Years, all teachers have QTS and close the gap.”

  • Protect the entire education budget from Early Years through to 16-19 education. Introduce a national funding formula and review the VAT treatment of colleges.
  • Invest in Early Years – “Keep up, not catch up”. Will triple Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 and tackle the low pay and qualifications of the Early Years workforce.
  • Teacher morale – attract, reward, develop and retain quality teachers, avoiding unnecessary conflict and excessive workloads.
  • Ensure all teachers have QTS, including Early Years, and radically improve CPD.
  • Implement the STRB teacher pay recommendations in full.
  • Pursue a national College of Teaching as an independent organisation.
  • Standards – driven by good leaders, school-to-school working and a new national leadership organisation.
  • Will institute a new, independent educational standards authority for curriculum development.
  • Recognise and reward progress in schools, not just attainment.
  • “We have an education system today that only serves 60% of youngsters and we should be ashamed of this."

So, there you have it in a nutshell. Read the next post to find out how the ministers responded to audience questions...