Labour will ensure that high-quality early years education is available for every child. We will reverse cuts to Sure Start and create provision for a genuinely universal service, focused on the under-2s to rising 5s. Considerable investment will be required to radically reform early years provision over two-terms, and we will ensure that childcare provision accommodates the working patterns of all parents. We will recruit 150,000 additional early years staff and introduce a national pay scale, improving pay for the overwhelmingly female workforce, and provide long-term funding to secure the future of maintained nursery schools.

Schools have faced years of budget cuts. We will end the fragmentation of our school system by bringing free schools and academies back under control of the people who know them well – parents, teachers, governing bodies and local communities. We will make sure that schools are properly resourced, with increased long-term funding, while introducing a fairer funding formula that leaves no child worse off. We will invest to upgrade schools that have fallen into disrepair.

Labour’s funding settlement will ensure that pupils are taught by a qualified teacher in every subject and that schools are open for a full 5 days a week with a maximum class size of 30 for all primary school children. We will also fund more non-contact time for teachers to prepare and plan and will provide the necessary funding for children with SEND. We will also introduce an Arts Pupil Premium to fund arts education for every primary child, thus tackling the narrowing curriculum which is denying many children access to language, art and music.

Labour will ensure fairness in Further Education, aligning the base-rate of per-pupil funding in post-16 education with KS4, providing dedicated capital funding to expand provision and bringing back the EMA. Labour will make lifelong learning a reality giving everyone access to a free lifelong entitlement to training up to Level 3 and up to 6 years training at Level 4-6, with maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, and involving employers in the co-design and production of qualifications. The plan is to reverse the fragmentation of further and adult education, incorporating it into a single national system of regulation that functions for education, just as our NHS does for healthcare.

Labour is committed to investment in education as an investment in our future.

Hilary Benn – Labour Candidate for Leeds Central

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