University of Surrey Issues in Politics Today Education, Education, Education? Points for discussion arising from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal.
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University of Surrey Issues in Politics Today Education, Education, Education? Points for discussion arising from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat education policies, as presented in their manifestos for the 2005 General Election April 2005
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Key themes in all three manifestos Parental choice School discipline Educational standards Higher education funding Childcare and education
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Points for discussion There was a surprising degree of consensus amongst all three parties about the main issues they wanted to address. Why do you think this is? What has influenced this choice? Do you think this consensus had any effect on: (a) political debate; (b) people’s decisions about whether or not to vote? Why?
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Parental choice Conservative: parents to have right to choose the school their child attends expansion of school places in best schools schools to become responsible for admissions parents able to send children, free of charge, to any independent school that offers a place at no more than cost of a state-funded school
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Parental choice (cont’d) Labour: OFSTED to have new powers to respond to parental complaints diversity of schools to allow parents greater choice (e.g. all schools to become specialist, increase in number of Academies) Liberal Democrat: more flexible curriculum for students aged 14+, to give them greater choice of learning options
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Points for discussion Would these measures actually provide all parents with greater choice – or do they favour some groups (e.g. the articulate middle class) over others? Is ‘choice’ always a good thing? Can you think of any reasons why it might not be? Both Conservatives and Labour wanted to make greater use of the private sector - through independent schools. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this?
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips School discipline Conservative: heads to have full control over expulsions special Turnaround Schools for disruptive pupils Labour: head teachers to have control of budget for out-of-school provision for disruptive pupils more dedicated provision for excluded and disruptive pupils continued use of parenting orders, fines and truancy sweeps to ensure parents get children to attend school
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips School discipline (cont’d) Liberal Democrat: smaller class sizes ‘positive behaviour plans’ to be agreed by parents and pupils (and monitored externally) local education authorities’ Behavioural Support Units to tackle exceptional problems head teachers able to transfer pupils to other schools or special units
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Points for discussion Conservatives and Labour tended to focus on ‘exceptional cases’ (i.e. the most disruptive pupils), while the Liberal Democrats focused on behaviour more generally. Do you think one approach is better than the other? Why?
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Educational standards Conservative: marks to be published alongside grades targets for attainment to be scrapped the National Curriculum to be slimmed down
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Educational standards (cont’d) Labour: literacy and numeracy programmes at primary school to be intensified; extra time for maths and English at secondary school, for those who need it high quality tuition in the arts, music, sport and languages at primary school every school to become an independent specialist school; large increase in number of Academies
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Educational standards (cont’d) Liberal Democrat: reduction in level of external testing – compulsory tests at 7 and 11 replaced with sampling against national standards; as a result, teachers given more time to teach teachers to assess pupils regularly and give feedback to parents all core subjects at secondary school to be taught by suitably qualified teachers
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Points for discussion Here, the parties differed in their approach to targets for attainment and formal testing. What impact do you think targets have - on: schools, teachers, parents, pupils? Conservatives and Labour argued that having a greater diversity of schools would drive up standards, while the Liberal Democrats emphasised the importance of the local comprehensive. Which approach do you think would be more effective?
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Higher education funding Conservative: tuition fees to be abolished; instead, higher interest to be charged on student loans access regulator to be abolished universities to build up individual endowments Labour: up-front tuition fees to be replaced with fees (up to £3000) to be paid after graduation; grants for poorer students
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Higher education funding (cont’d) Liberal Democrat: all tuition fees to be abolished; grants to help poorer students with cost of living funded by new 50 per cent tax on incomes over £100,000
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Points for discussion Here, the three parties had quite different policies. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the three different approaches? For each approach: who would be the main beneficiaries? Do you think the three parties have different views about the role of higher education in our society? If so, what are they?
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Childcare Conservative: more flexible maternity pay (paid over 9 months or a higher amount over 6 months) £50 per week for each child under 5 for childcare (for families receiving working tax credit) network of after-school clubs
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Childcare (cont’d) Labour: expansion of out-of-school provision 3500 Sure Start Children’s Centres more generous Working Tax Credit to help pay for childcare increase in paid maternity leave (to 9 months from 2007 - with aim of 12 months by end of parliament)
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Childcare (cont’d) Liberal Democrat: extension of before and after school provision to 8am-6pm for all children 3500 Children’s Centres Maternity Income Guarantee – will raise maternity pay for the first six months
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Points for discussion As for some of the previous issues, there was a considerable degree of consensus between the parties. Why do you think this is? Why has childcare become such an important issue now? How does it affect other policy areas? Which groups of people would be most advantaged by these policies? Which would be most disadvantaged?
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips To conclude….. Now that you have had a chance to think about what the three main political parties consider to be the most important educational issues: (i) Do you agree with them? Are these the most important issues we should be thinking about? (ii) Is anything missing? What would you include if you were writing your own manifesto?
www.surrey.ac.uk/pips Further resources Conservative manifesto http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=manifesto.uk.page Labour manifesto http://www.labour.org.uk/fileadmin/manifesto_13042005_a3/flash/ manifesto_2005.swf Liberal Democrat manifesto http://www.libdems.org.uk/party/policy/manifesto.html