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University of Surrey Issues in Politics Today


Liberal Democrat: ... Liberal Democrat: smaller class sizes ... Liberal Democrat: extension of before and after school provision to 8am-6pm for all children ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: University of Surrey Issues in Politics Today

University of SurreyIssues 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

Key themes in all three manifestos
  • Parental choice
  • School discipline
  • Educational standards
  • Higher education funding
  • Childcare and education

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) peoples decisions
    about whether or not to vote? Why?

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

Parental choice (contd)
  • Labour
  • OFSTED to have new powers to respond to parental
  • 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

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
  • 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?

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

School discipline (contd)
  • 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

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?

Educational standards
  • Conservative
  • marks to be published alongside grades
  • targets for attainment to be scrapped
  • the National Curriculum to be slimmed down

Educational standards (contd)
  • 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

Educational standards (contd)
  • 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

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?

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

Higher education funding (contd)
  • 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

Points for discussion
  • Here, the three parties had quite different
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the
    three different approaches?
  • For each approach who would be the main
  • Do you think the three parties have different
    views about the role of higher education in our
    society? If so, what are they?

  • 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

Childcare (contd)
  • Labour
  • expansion of out-of-school provision
  • 3500 Sure Start Childrens Centres
  • more generous Working Tax Credit to help pay for
  • increase in paid maternity leave (to 9 months
    from 2007 - with aim of 12 months by end of

Childcare (contd)
  • Liberal Democrat
  • extension of before and after school provision to
    8am-6pm for all children
  • 3500 Childrens Centres
  • Maternity Income Guarantee will raise maternity
    pay for the first six months

Points for discussion
  • As for some of the previous issues, there was a
    considerable degree of consensus between the
  • Why do you think this is?
  • Why has childcare become such an important issue
  • How does it affect other policy areas?
  • Which groups of people would be most advantaged
    by these policies? Which would be most

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?

Further resources
  • Conservative manifesto
  • http//
  • Labour manifesto
  • http//
  • Liberal Democrat manifesto
  • http//