The Green Party Manifesto – what it promises for schools?
Given the uncertain election outcome and the chance that the Greens may find themselves in coalition with Labour and the SNP, it is worth a read.
The Greens promise to increase funding by at least £4 billion per year, but do not say when this will be implemented from or by. This contrasts with the Conservative promise of an extra £7.1bn by 2022 (an extra £4.3bn in real terms) and the Liberal Democrats' emergency £2.2bn cash injection and extra £10bn a year. Labour has announced a £150bn social transformation fund for schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses but has yet to provide the detail on schools funding. We await the other manifestos for the detail on their proposals.
Education from aged 6
Under the Greens, formal education will start from age 6 with younger children remaining in early years education, drawing on the Swedish model.
Reduced class sizes
The Greens will also reduce class sizes to 20 pupils 'in the long term' though they don't give further detail on the timescale or confirm if this will be funded as part of the extra £4bn a year.
As expected, Ofsted will be abolished and be replaced by a 'collaborative system' of assessing and supporting schools to improve standards. No further detail is given on what this system would look like and how it would work in practice.
National curriculum and league tables abolished
The 'rigid' national curriculum and league tables will also be abolished with teachers 'trusted to plan their lessons and assess progress'.
Arts and music education restored
Given that the national curriculum would be abolished, it is a surprise to read that the Greens will restore arts and music education in all state schools. That said, the principle of restoring arts and music education to state schools will be welcome given its diminution in recent years.
Climate curriculum introduced
The Greens will also introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to teach about climate and environmental crises and will enable more outdoor lessons and introduce a new Nature GCSE. Again, this raises questions around delivery given the proposed abolition of the national curriculum.
Meanwhile, the Greens will make sure all children get at least a half-day equivalent of sports in school which would again conflict with the abolition of the national curriculum.
As expected, the Greens will end the academies programme and bring all academies under local authority control. This will come with a price tag. However, the Greens don't say how this would be funded.
SEND in local schools
Meanwhile, children with SEND will be able to access their local school, meaning schools will have accessible buildings, an inclusive curriculum and specially trained teachers, with specialist schools retained for when children and parents would prefer that option. This focus on local provision will obviously come with a price tag. However, the manifesto doesn't confirm whether this will be funded as part of the extra £4bn a year, nor does it address the need for wider reform of SEND funding and provision.
Private schools and charitable status
The Greens will also remove charitable status from private schools and charge VAT on fees. Labour is expected to do likewise though they are yet to confirm the conference motion to integrate private schools into the state sector by redistributing their assets.
Further education revived
Finally, the Greens will 'revive' further education to provide a wider choice of academic and vocational learning. They will also raise the funding rate for 16-17 year olds and introduce a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers, though the manifesto doesn't give any further detail.
It's fair to say that The Green Party manifesto is short on detail not just in terms of how the key pledges will be implemented but also how they will be funded. The other parties may well face a similar challenge when they publish their manifestos. Let's watch this space and see how the parties fare.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Graham Shaw or any other member of the Education team on 0113 244 6100.
You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys Education on Twitter here
The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors