Education

A comprehensive system

Our top priority is education which affects our economy and our public services. Our model for education is based off of Finland which is one of the most successful countries in the world for education. We have focused on equality and creativity which have both helped Finland improve its own system.

Sections:

  • Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

Increase the Use of Technology in Education. Using technology in education will help to prepare students for the future and it will make education more personalised to individual student’s interests. Schools such as ‘alt school’ in the United States offer a potential format for digital based learning. In education this can include apps to aid with the marking of work, apps that help to analyse the performance of student’s, laptops or tablets to write with, subject based games, virtual fieldtrips using virtual reality and using 3D printers to create things. Investment in technology will save time for teachers and it will give them more time for individual help.

  • Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

Limit Class Sizes. This is following a study by the centre for public education in the United States which shows that the best number of pupils in a class is 18. This will be for primary and secondary schools and will give teachers more time to interact with students on an individual basis.

  • All UK.

Apprenticeships and Internships Should Receive a Living Wage. Unpaid internships allow businesses to receive work without having to pay staff for their time. This means they may not have to employ a new member of staff to work in the business reducing the number of people who are in employment.

  • Scotland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland.

Online Education to Allow Anyone to Access Courses for Free. To ensure everyone can access education easily we want to create a new government website that will allow people to access all courses offered by schools and universities to students. This should include video tutorials, interactive lessons and an effort to make as many peer reviewed papers open to all as possible. This program should first be tested in a small number of regions to ensure it works before it is rolled out to the rest of the UK. With different devolved education systems there should be different websites in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

  • Scotland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland.

Use a Committee to Help Plan Better School Meals. This would replace the decision on school meals being taken simply by governors and would allow for broader input. There should be a meeting each month to plan the meals students receive. It would include members of the local county council, the schools governing body, a dietician and staff at that school who deal with purchasing and serving food. This should look at where the food is sourced and the nutritional value each item has. It will also help students to pick up healthy eating habits at a younger age.

  • UK, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Replace the Requirement for Collective Worship in Schools. This would involve replacing section 70 of the School Standards and Framework Act of 1998 which requires a collective act of worship in schools of a broadly Christian nature. In Scotland it would involve replacing the requirement for periods of religious observance and in Northern Ireland replacing the time for undenominational worship.

The replacement would mean schools should offer students the opportunity to take part in group worship or reflection. This should not need to be Christian in nature as it should depend on individual beliefs and students themselves must always have the right not to take part.

  • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Ensure Students have Access to Bathroom Breaks During Lessons. We would require teachers to allow students to use bathrooms during lessons. This is a result of multiple incidents involving students on their periods or with either bladder issues being unable to leave the classroom.

  • Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

Gender neutral uniforms in schools. At the moment some schools make students wear certain uniforms depending on their gender. We believe schools should allow students to have a choice between wearing either skirts or trousers regardless of their gender. Wales already has mandatory guidelines for schools meaning they already have gender neutral uniforms.

  • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Give teachers a master’s degree when entering teaching. We support a Teach First style program that means all new teachers have a tuition free master’s degree when entering teaching. This should also be alongside the opportunity for existing teachers to gain a master’s degree if they don’t already have one.

Types of schools:

Academies and foundation schools:

  • England only.

Schools Should Not be Forced to Become Academies. With the mixed performances of academies, we don’t believe that forcing other schools to become academies will help in improving school standards. The choice to become an academy should only be open to schools which are failing and even then the decision to become an academy must not be forced on a school. Parents should also have more say over whether schools become academies or whether there are other steps that can be taken by the local council.

  • England only.

Most Existing Academies Should be Converted into Community Schools. We believe that community schools are more accountable than academies, yet overall, there is little difference between the two in terms of the grade’s pupils achieve. This would convert: Sponsored Academies, Converter Academies and Free Schools into community schools. However, this would only be done if their funding agreement or any land ownership is not a barrier to converting the school into a community school. Any land that can be purchased voluntarily should be.

  • England only.

Give Local Authorities More Power Over Existing Academies. We believe that academies, foundation schools and free schools should only be used where they are working well and are improving school standards. Councils should have the ability to take schools back into the hands of the local council and to become a community school if they have not improved as an academy.

  • England only.

Replace Academy Trusts. Rather than trusts being related to groups of academy schools we wish to expand the practice of cooperation between schools. A trust would be where both a school working to a high standard and one working at a low standard can work together more by pooling resources, staff and good practices. To encourage good schools to enter these programs incentives such as grants should be used to ensure they don’t see a negative impact on their finances.

  • England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Only Allow Non-Profit Organisations and Groups to be Involved in Running Schools. This would include academies, voluntary-aided, voluntary-controlled, foundation schools and free schools with interest groups such as businesses using academy schools to benefit themselves and pay either themselves or companies linked to them large amounts of money. Whilst businesses would still be allowed to donate money to these schools, they would not be allowed to take part in the running of the schools. We would also cap the salaries of those running these schools to ensure they don’t overpay themselves.

Community Schools:

  • England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All New State Schools Should be Community Schools. This would stop the creation of new: academies, free, voluntary-aided, voluntary controlled, foundation and trust schools. This would be to return accountability to schools through local councils.

Selective Areas:

  • England and Northern Ireland.

Phase Out Grammar Schools and Secondary Moderns. Grammar schools are schools that select their intake, mostly using the 11+ test and they focus on academic subjects more. Secondary moderns are the remaining schools which focus more on practical subjects and are non-selective. We believe that 10 is too young to split children and that these systems further disadvantage already disadvantaged groups such as those on free school meals, those with disabilities and slow academic developers. We would phase out both grammar schools and secondary moderns which would be converted into comprehensive schools offering both academic and practical subjects. To do this grammar schools would be slowly integrated into the wider school system which will take place over the course of four years, slowly opening the system to all students regardless of ability. Over the same period, secondary moderns would be converted to comprehensives. After this a fairer funding project will be implemented to balance funding between ex-grammar and secondary modern schools.


Faith Schools:

  • England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Schools Should Not be Allowed to Discriminate Based on Religion. We do not believe that religion should be a factor in the recruitment of staff or whether children are given a place. To do this we would remove the exemptions from the Equality act of 2010 which allows religious schools to discriminate based on religion.

  • England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Faith Schools Should Follow the Curriculum in Full, Including for Religious Education (RE). We believe that all children should have a full education and that includes an education that teaches about all faiths and those of no faith. This only applies to Voluntary-Aided schools as Foundation Schools and Voluntary-Controlled schools already teach RE using the National Curriculum.

All schools:

  • England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Expand the Number of Schools Using the National Curriculum. This would mean introducing a slimmed down national curriculum that needs to be taught at all schools. This would also include bringing: academies (including faith academies), free schools, and independent schools; under the national curriculum. However, some independent schools such as university technical colleges and studio schools would be exempt as they are focusing on a single subject.

The inspections themselves would also change with as much focus on physical health and mental health support as on academic achievements. The physical and mental wellbeing of students would be the priority before academic achievements. The final change would be to set up an aspect of Ofsted focused on receiving and investigating complaints about schools or teachers both from parents and students.

  • England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Abolish All Girls and All Boys Schools. We believe all schools should be mixed and the idea of single sex schools is outdated.

  • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Expand and Reform Ofsted along with other school inspectorates across the UK. We would make several large changes to both the coverage and the functions of Ofsted. Firstly, the number of schools inspected by Ofsted should include all independent schools replacing the ‘Independent Schools Inspectorate’ and the ‘School Inspection Service’. We would also support Ofsted tests being carried out each year regardless of the schools Ofsted rating. If a school received a good rating one year this does not mean these standards will continue. They should also include the number of students on free school meals or with additional needs on their reports to check school do not have under-representation in any of these areas.

For Wales the school inspectorate is Estyn who already carry out inspections for independent and special schools. We however support yearly inspections rather than the current system where inspections happen at least every seven years. We also support more detailed breakdowns on free school meal students and students with additional needs.

In Scotland Education Scotland is the inspectorate which already inspects independent schools. Some state schools already include the number of students from deprived backgrounds and with additional needs but we would expand this to all schools inspected. We also support yearly inspections rather than the current system where inspections happen based on a sample of schools each year rather than simply inspecting every school.

Northern Ireland has the Education and Training Inspectorate which also inspects independent schools. However, they already provide statistics on Free School Meal students and those with additional needs. We also support yearly inspections rather than the current system where there is a mix of full inspections along with inspections around monitoring and maintaining standards.

We would also support each of these inspectors setting up a complaints system focused on receiving and investigating complaints about schools or teachers both from parents and students. The inspections themselves would also change with as much focus on physical health and mental health support along with safeguarding as on academic achievements.

Early years education:

  • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Increase the Age at Which Children Start Education to 7. This gives children more time to be around adults when they are younger so they are more likely to be around people who are mature. This is the same starting age as they already use in Finland.

  • England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Make it Easier for Students to Switch Between School Years. This will include a larger period in which any student that is among the youngest in their year group can choose whether to move into that year or the one below. After a student has started school this option should remain open to them until they begin studying for their GCSE’s. This is to deal with the large difference that having a year between the youngest and the oldest students has.

  • England only.

Scrap Base Line Assessments. The proposed base line assessments are tests for reception students to measure progress in students. We do not support the introduction of this test as it risks teachers focusing their attention on the test rather than on improving students more broadly. This would also reduce stress on students along with the test itself being done when students are not old enough for tests to be useful.

  • England only.

Scrap SATs. SAT’s (Standard Attainment Tests) are primary school tests which are used to try to understand student attainment. We however believe this is too young to test students accurately and that SATs risks teachers focusing their attention towards the test rather than on improving students more broadly. We also worry about the stress this places on students.

Middle years education:

  • England and Wales.

Change GCSE’s to an easier baccalaureate style qualification. This would reform GCSEs, so they are; less stressful, include non-exam essays that account for 50% of the course and focus more on critical thinking. This change should also be replicated with Scottish Highers.

  • England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Introduce TCSE’s. If T-Levels are successful, then we feel this style of course should be expanded further. We would therefore support Level 2 BTEC’s and National Vocational Qualifications being replaced by a Technical Certificate of Secondary Education with greater links between schools and businesses. This will involve partnering schools offering TCSE’s with businesses to give students real world experience. In Scotland this would replace National Certificates and National Progress Awards.

  • England and Wales.

Grants for Schools Offering GCSE’s on Arts and Technology Subjects. Whilst subjects like maths and English are important, we also need to focus on other subjects that are very likely to be helpful in the future by increasing the amount of time students spend on them. We reject the idea that people who want to study these subjects should have any less chance than those who want to do core subjects.

  • England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Split (PSHE) into Separate Sections. PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) would be split into lessons on politics, business, finance, home economics, sexual health and relationships. These would all be allocated separate slots of time within PSHE lessons along with a curriculum for PSHE education. We would also support teaching about basic consent from an early age and for Sex Education to be taught in primary schools.

  • England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Teach topics rather than Subjects. This would involve students looking at issues such as climate change or immigration rather than individual topics such as science of maths. Whilst the course content learnt by students would be similar, this would change how it is delivered. It should combine technology and interactive teaching to make education more personal along with individual projects for groups of students. The aim of this is to make learning more applicable to the wider world.

  • England, and Wales.

Increase the importance of practical and verbal skills in GCSE’s and A-levels. This would include increased weight for speaking and listening within English and a focus on practical experiments within science. For Scotland this would apply to Highers and Advanced Highers.

  • England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

College entrance exams for students that don’t pass their English and Maths GCSE’s. For students with learning disabilities we feel there should be an alternative way into college to study A-Levels or vocational courses at the same level run by the government. This should be through an exam in either one or multiple areas depending on the subjects they want to study. Whilst access to A-Level courses exist, they mainly focus on either making up for a lack of having the right grades or not having either English or maths GCSE’s, this exam would be more specific to the subjects students want to study at A-level standard.

  • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Alter T-Levels for rural communities. We welcome the new T-Levels which will be available in 2020 and we hope these improve vocational education within England. This qualification however needs to introduce more flexibility for rural schools allowing more time to be spent at the college where travelling to an employee is more difficult. In Scotland this would replace the Higher National Certificate within Wales and Northern Ireland we support these replacing BTECs and National Vocational Qualifications.

  • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Less homework. We believe students should have more time to play, develop as people and make social connections. Students will also learn in other ways, especially when they are exploring their natural surroundings. This is vital if students are to be successful in school and will reduce the stress student’s experience. This approach has already been used successfully in Finland.

  • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Mixed ability classes for students. Alongside mixed ability schools, we also support mixed ability classes where students of all abilities are in classrooms together. This will require extra help for students with additional needs along with training for teachers to work with all ability classrooms. Mixed ability classes are already proven to work well in Finland.

  • England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

A single GCSE and A-level exam board. At the moment, the UK has tests and exam results provided by charities and private companies. This means the exams students sit is different depending the on the exam body. We support a single government body to mark degree level exams and coursework. This would help to standardise the marks of students in different schools and colleges. For Scotland this would apply to Highers and Advanced Highers.

Higher education:

  • All of these policies apply to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Higher Education Grants. This would mean that 18-year olds would receive a grant for higher education as a replacement for university tuition fees and maintenance loans. The loan would cover either the costs of university education, an apprenticeship, a vocational course or another higher education course. This loan would be available to anyone going into higher education and would therefore be paid through general taxation. The system will also benefit the UKs economy overall with a higher skilled workforce.

A single degree qualification exam board. Just as we support a single government exam board for GCSE’s and A-levels, there should be a single body to mark degree level exams and coursework. This wMiddle-years-educationould help to reduce biases that may affect the marks of individual students and will also help to standardise the marks of students in different universities.

Support Two Year Degree Schemes. We support universities offering degree schemes of two, rather than three, years. This would involve teaching during the summer break. This has benefits for students wanting to enter the world of work or for mature students wanting to take shorter periods of time off from work.

Increase Funding for Lifelong Learning. This would make it easier to learn new skills during or after work. We believe that education should be accessible to those who want to learn at whatever age they may be.

Increase loans for master’s students. We would increase the loans for master’s students, so they cover the full cost of a master’s degree.