Much like the rest of the nation, the election announcement certainly took us by surprise. What now follows is the usual pause to decision making due to Purdah, and we can consider what changes an election may bring to our sector.
To address the contentious issue of schools funding reform, the Conservative manifesto has promised a funding floor so that no child will lose out through the funding reforms.
The Conservatives are also looking at abolishing universal free infant meals, and replace these with free breakfasts, as they feel this would be a better use of public money. They’ve also promised to push ahead and build a hundred free schools a year.
As for Labour, according to their manifesto they’re prioritising reducing class sizes to below 30 pupils and introducing free school meals for all primary school children.
In addition to this, they’d look at introducing arts subjects into the English Baccalaureate and remove the requirement for schools to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. They’ve also pledged extra £4.8bn revenue funding for schools, alongside an investment of £21bn for capital investment. This would all be co-ordinated through a centralised National Education Service.
The Liberal Democrats have echoed Labour’s spending plans, stating that they’d protect schools funding at around £3.3bn, protect the pupil premium and introduce a ‘fairer’ national funding formula. They’d also guarantee that all teachers would have Qualified Teacher Status from January 2019.
Similar to Labour, they’re also proposing returning powers to local authorities to create new maintained schools, as well as abolishing plans for the reintroduction of grammar schools.
From a curriculum perspective, the Lib Dems outline their vision of a slimmed down curriculum, with the extra capacity being directed at PHSE, SRE and arts and creative subjects.
If the election transpires as the pundits anticipate; a Conservative victory with a significant majority, there could still be a change of minister.
The rumours are that Theresa May is expecting a large enough majority that she’ll be able to create a cabinet of her own liking – removing those she’s seen as not supportive of her cause.
It could mean that Education Secretary Justine Greening’s future is in doubt, due to her perceived less than enthusiastic support of the aforementioned grammar school plans. It’s possible that there could be a change of Skills Minister too, although they will, at least in the short term, have to adhere to the focus on apprenticeships and technical education reforms.
We’re also hearing that the universities brief may be removed from the Department for Education, once again creating a divide between ownership of this policy area.
Whatever the outcome, we’ll need the government that’s returned to Westminster to get a handle on the ongoing education reforms in technical education and apprenticeships, as these reforms continue to develop at pace.
As the run up to the election develops, we’ll keep you informed as Purdah allows on any developments that may impact you as a customer.