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Lib Dems manifesto 2024: All the schools policies

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to increase school funding above inflation, spend an extra £1.9 billion a year on buildings and include arts subjects in the EBacc.

The party’s manifesto also commits to reform Ofsted, curriculum and assessment, and the expansion of extra-curricular activities and extension of free school meals and the pupil premium.

The party has said its revenue schools policies will cost an extra £2.17 billion by 2028, while its capital plans will cost £1.9 billion a year. But beyond capital, no breakdown for individual proposals has been provided.

Schools Week previously estimated that proposals signed off at last year’s Lib Dem conference could cost more than £9 billion.

However, not all of those policies have made it into the manifesto. For example, extending free school meals to all primary schools is a longer-term ambition.

The party said it would raise revenue by reversing cuts to bank taxes, reforming capital gains tax, taxing oil and gas profits and raising the digital services tax, among other initiatives.

Here’s your Schools Week round-up of all the schools policies …

School funding and pay

  • Increase school and college funding per-pupil above the rate of inflation every year
  • End the “scandal of crumbling school and college buildings” by investing in new buildings and “clearing the backlog of repairs”. This will cost £1.9 billion a year, with £900 million coming from redirecting capital funding “for unnecessary new free schools”
  • Reform the school teachers’ review body to make it “properly independent of government and able to recommend fair pay rises for teachers, and fully funding those rises every year”

Teacher training and development

  • Create a teacher workforce strategy to “ensure that every secondary school child is taught by a specialist teacher in their subject”
  • Fund teacher training so all posts in school are paid
  • Introduce a “clear and properly funded programme of high-quality professional development for all teachers, including training on effective parental engagement”

Curriculum and assessment

  • Establish a commission to broaden the curriculum and “make qualifications at 16 and 18 fit for the 21st century”, drawing on “best practice such as the International Baccalaureate” and ensuring children learn “core skills such as critical thinking, verbal reasoning and creativity”
  • Strengthen careers advice and links with employers in schools and colleges
  • Include arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate and give power to Ofsted to monitor the curriculum so that schools continue to provide subjects like art, music or drama
  • Expand extracurricular activities, such as sport, music, drama, debating and coding, starting with a “new free entitlement for disadvantaged children”

Accountability

  • Reform Ofsted inspections and end single-word judgements “so that parents get a clear picture of the true strengths and weaknesses of each school, and schools get the guidance and support they need to improve”
  • 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”

SEND

  • Give councils extra funding to reduce the amount schools pay towards the cost of children’s education, health and care plans
  • Set up a new “National Body for SEND” to fund support for children with very high needs

Free school meals and pupil premium

  • 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”
  • Introduce a “Young People’s Premium”, extending pupil premium funding to disadvantaged young people aged 16-18
  • Extend pupil premium plus funding to children in kinship care, and guarantee any child taken into care a school place within three weeks, if required to move schools

Other policies

  • Give LAs the power 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
  • Put a “dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every primary and secondary school”, paid-for by increasing the digital services tax
  • Introduce a “Tutoring Guarantee” for every disadvantaged pupil who needs extra support
  • Set up a register of children who are not in school, and work “to understand and remove underlying barriers to attendance”
  • Tackle bullying in schools by “promoting pastoral leadership in schools and delivering high-quality relationships and sex education”
  • Appoint a cabinet minister for children and young people
  • Return to the Erasmus Plus programme as an associated country
  • Set up an independent advocacy body for children’s safety online
  • Addressing the “underfunding and neglect” of children’s mental health services, youth services and youth justice services

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