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Election 2024 buzz: changes for primary schools

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A General Election has just been announced for July 2024, and it will have a ripple effect on all aspects of society. But what do parents need to know about the impact on their child's education? Matt Revill, primary school head, offers his insights and opinions, breaking down the possible changes heading our way.

As we head towards a General Election on 4 July 2024, you might be wondering what all this political hubbub mean for your child's school. Well, let's break it down...

Delay, delay, delay

First off, let's talk about those delays. With the election looming, decisions about important education policies are now on hold. This means any changes to teacher pay or updates to school guidelines are up in the air. 

While it might not seem like a big deal at first glance, these delays can throw a wrench into school plans for the future, especially when we're already juggling tight budgets.

So, what is each party bringing to the table?

What is the Labour party saying?

Labour's got ambitious ideas, like scrapping tax breaks for private schools and giving children access to breakfast clubs and counsellors. 

When it comes to the tax break for private schools, this could impact your child's primary school in a number of ways:

  • There may be an increase in pupils moving from private schools to state schools (although the actual increase is unknown – the IFS predicts a 3-7% enrollment decline in private schools).
  • It could potentially contribute to closing the gap in educational inequalities in the UK. 
  • If Labour is true to their word, the extra money would go to disadvantaged students. 

What is the Conservative party saying?

The Conservatives are talking about improving test scores and making sure every student studies English and maths until they're 18. They're suggesting a boost in funding over the next 2-3 years and claim there will be 35 new special free schools for SEN pupils. 

They also have an Education Recovery plan to help children recover from lost learning due to the pandemic.  

What are some of the other parties saying?

While Conservative and Labour are the two main contenders, other parties have their own bold suggestions. 

The Liberal Democrats are advocating for increased per-pupil funding above inflation, extending the pupil premium, and significant investment in tutoring​​. 

Meanwhile, Reform UK and the Green Party are also proposing various changes. Reform UK want to ban gender ideology in schools and to continue the 20% tax break for private schools.  

The Green party is talking about scrapping SATs and league tables​​​​. They are also proposing free school meals for all primary and secondary students and to replace the National Curriculum. 

What are schools saying? 

Schools have their own priorities and will know what's really needed to support their students. 

I can't speak for every school, but here are some key priorities that many school leaders, including myself, will be looking for in these proposed policies:

  • More support for mental health and wellbeing – we often face years of waiting for children to be referred and seen by specialist services.  
  • Increasing school budgets – we are already at breaking point with tight budgets and we simply cannot cope with any more cuts. 
  • A new method for school inspections. Every school leader I have spoken to agrees that something needs to change in regards to school inspections. Whichever government comes into power needs to assess and adapt the process – perhaps by letting schools work together to improve and take away the teeth from inspection.

Preparing for changes

At the end of the day, the election's outcome is going to have a big impact on our children's education. Whether it's funding shortages, teacher shortages, or mental health support, there's a lot riding on this election. As a school leader, I'm acutely aware that education is often used as a political bargaining tool, so whilst change is clearly needed it's important to remain cautious and pay attention to the details. 

As we get closer to July, let's try to stay informed and engaged. After all, our children deserve the best education possible, no matter which party comes out on top.

Matt Revill is a primary school headteacher with over 20 years experience of working in schools. He has worked in a range of settings and currently works within a multi-academy trust of 14 schools. In his free time, he enjoys reading, computing, holidaying and spending time with his family and friends. Matt has a son who is currently working his way through A-levels at college.

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