General Election 2024: What could change for teachers and schools under a Labour government

From free breakfasts to thousands of new teachers, Labour has promised to change our schools 👩‍🏫
  • Just days after its big election day win, Labour is cracking on with plans to recruit 6,500 new teachers.
  • It will also be taking aim at private school tax loopholes, to improve state-funded schools.
  • Mental health support, career guidance, and free school breakfasts are all in the works, the party has pledged.
  • Ofsted’s controversial ‘single word judgement’ system for schools could also be in for a shake-up.

Labour and its new education secretary have hit the ground running, and they have plenty of work ahead of them if they plan to keep their promise of building a school system that our young people deserve.

The 2024 general election has seen the Labour Party win by a landslide, after 14 years with a Conservative-led government. Labour ran on a platform of change, and under their leadership Britain will likely see some big ones - from promises to deliver millions more NHS appointments to nationalising the country’s rail network.

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It looks like the education sector won’t be missing out on its share of upheaval either, with some significant pledges mooted in the party’s pre-election manifesto. Newly appointed Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson has wasted no time in getting to work this week, already reaching out to major education workforces to start the process of resetting the government’s relationship with teaching profession.

But what else is on the agenda for education, and what will it mean for schools? Here’s everything you need to know:

The Labour Party already have a number of policies in the works focused on reforming education (Photo: National World/Getty/Adobe Stock)The Labour Party already have a number of policies in the works focused on reforming education (Photo: National World/Getty/Adobe Stock)
The Labour Party already have a number of policies in the works focused on reforming education (Photo: National World/Getty/Adobe Stock)

What is Labour’s plan for schools?

Teachers

Labour plans to recruit 6,500 more teachers into schools. To do this, the party - and new minister Phillipson - say they want rebuild the government’s to relationship with the sector, and transform the image of teaching as an “attractive, expert profession” – to both recruit new teachers and retain those already in classrooms.

The newly elected government has already resumed its flagship teacher recruitment campaign, Every Lesson Shapes a Life. This will help direct people interested in becoming teachers to the Get into Teaching website, where they can get support and advice from specially-trained advisors to help them make their way into the profession. Labour will also be restarting its further education recruitment campaign, Share Your Skills.

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Labour has also promised a teacher training entitlement for all teachers, and to create a new national voice for school support staff.

Funding schools

One big issue that teaching unions have raised is that state-funded schools have faced years of funding cuts, forcing them to “narrow the education experience of children just to balance the books”. One of Labour’s flagship education policies aims to go some way towards rectifying this.

Private schools currently benefit from an “unfair tax break” that means they avoid paying VAT on fees, the party says. Labour had pledged to close this loophole, and says it will use the money for improving state schools.

Education and life skills

Labour’s ‘plan for schools’ manifesto outlined a number of plans to prepare young people for their futures, and to equip them with the experiences they need to get them ready for work and life after school.

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Some of these proposed policies include more access to sports and arts education - alongside a strong literacy and numeracy core, as well as introducing a new focus on speaking and listening skills. Labour also wants to make sure children are being taught the digital skills they need to succeed in the modern world, and has indicated plans to review how the school curriculum is assessed.

On top of this, the party wants professional careers guidance available in all schools and colleges, and two weeks’ of work experience for all students.

Making sure children learn the digital skills they need to succeed in the modern world is also on the agenda (Photo: Adobe Stock)Making sure children learn the digital skills they need to succeed in the modern world is also on the agenda (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Making sure children learn the digital skills they need to succeed in the modern world is also on the agenda (Photo: Adobe Stock) | peampath - stock.adobe.com

Child poverty and wellbeing

In a move it hopes will improve both attendance and make sure kids have enough to eat to fuel their learning, Labour has promised to introduce to introduce a free breakfast club to every primary school in England.

The party also wants to introduce mental health support staff in every school, who will work to “boost the wellbeing of young people, many of whom still suffering the effects of lockdown”. This move will, in part, be funded by closing the private school tax loophole.

Ofsted and school inspections

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Ofsted - the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills - is a government department responsible for making sure schools and other education facilities are performing well, running in a safe way that supports students to learn. It inspects schools, giving them a single word overall rating - like ‘outstanding’ or ‘inadequate’ - a practice that has proven controversial, particularly after a coroner ruled that an inspection which saw her school downgraded contributed to the suicide of headteacher Ruth Perry.

Labour has promised to shake up school inspections, ending the ‘single word Ofsted judgements’. Instead, it will bring in a report card system, along with annual checks on safeguarding and attendance.

Multi-academy trusts, which manage multiple schools, will also be inspected as well as just the schools themselves, Labour says, and there will be new regional teams working to improve local schools introduced, “to drive better outcomes for children”.

What are your thoughts on Labour’s education policies, and what do you think are the biggest issues British schools face? Join the conversation and make your voice heard by commenting below.

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