LIBERAL DEMOCRATS MANIFESTO; EDUCATION
Fairness is the key strand running through the Lib Dem manifesto, which incorporates four main themes of fair taxes, more chances for children, a greener economy and cleaning up politics. Unlike the other two Parties it publishes detailed plans about future spending plans, although critics suggest that they are not half as detailed as they might be.
David Laws their education spokesman is very influential within the party and on its right wing.Pro choice in public services and reduction in state interference in how schools are run. No micro management from Whitehall (similar to Tory view).
School Freedoms and Academies.;The Lib Dems will introduce an Education Freedom Act banning politicians from getting involved in the day-to-day running of schools. The aim is to devole as much decision-making to schools as possible.Will give all schools the freedom to innovate. They will ensure a level playing field for admissions and funding and replace Academies with their own model of ‘Sponsor-Managed Schools’. These schools will be commissioned by and accountable to local authorities and not Whitehall, and would allow other appropriate providers, such as educational charities and parent groups, to be involved in delivering state-funded education. Similar to Tory ideas except that local authorities would have a much greater role than envisioned in Tory plans . Some Academy supporters worry that this vision (given the LA role) implies less freedom for schools to run themselves than that afforded by Tory plans. Tory plans envisaged getting away from Balls model for Academies which sees LAs as partners.
Class Sizes Ensure children get the individual attention they need by cutting class sizes. Critics suggest that this would have heavy price tag attached and mixed evidence about the effects of class size on secondary pupils performance.
Teachers Improve teacher training by increasing the size of the school-based Graduate Teacher Programme and support the expansion of Teach First to attract more top graduates into teaching. We will improve training for existing teachers over the course of their careers to keep them up to date with best practice. We will seek to ensure that science at Key Stage 4 and above is taught by appropriately qualifi ed teachers.
National Curriculum Replace national curriculum in England with “minimum curriculum entitlement” in state-funded schools and scale back tests at age 11. More freedom for school management .General Diploma to bring GCSEs, A-Levels and high quality vocational qualifications together [England only] to end apartheid between vocational and academic qualifications.
Pupil Premium Pupil premium of £2.5bn given to head teachers in England, aimed at disadvantaged children, which could allow average primary school to cut class size to 20 pupils
SEN Early intervention to tackle misbehaviour. Special Educational Needs diagnostic assessments for all five-year-olds [England only]
Environment Schools to get loans to improve energy-efficiency – paid back from energy savings [England only]
Standards and Accountability Independent Educational Standards Authority to oversee and restore confidence in exams. Reform school league tables and give 14 to 19-year-olds right to go to college, rather than school, if it suits them better [England only]
Higher Education Phase out university tuition fees within six years. Scrap fees for final-year students immediately. Scrap target of 50% of people going to university [England only] Reform current bursary schemes to create a National Bursary Scheme for students, so that each university gets a bursary budget suited to the needs of its students. Again, critics say HE sector needs more investment, not less at a time of high youth unemployment and with the need to compete globally . Universities want to keep and indeed to raise tuition fees to better reflect true costs and to allow them to remain globally competitive.
Parents To introduce shared parental leave from work – extended to 18 months over time – and right for fathers to attend ante-natal appointments. Right for grandparents to request flexible working
Child Protection Enforce publication of serious case reviews in child protection. [England only] Support “panic” buttons on social networking sites
Train to Gain Better target spending on adult skills. ‘We will end Train to Gain funding for large companies, restricting the funds to the small and medium-sized firms that need the support. The money saved will be used to cover the course fees for adults taking a first Level 3 qualification (such as A-levels or an adult apprenticeship), allowing a significant reduction in the overall budget.’
There has been some convergence between Tory and Lib Dems education policy particularly on supply side reforms and the pupil premium suggesting that whatever the result of coalition manoeuvres there will probably be an Education reform Bill in the Queen speech (25 May) in first session of a new Parliament.