From education to employment

Labour announces plan to improve education standards for all children

Labour is today (Thursday) announcing a plan to improve education standards for all children after the OECD revealed on Tuesday that school children in Britain are more likely to be miserable compared with children in other countries.

Labour will:
  • Cap all class sizes at 30 by recruiting nearly 20,000 more teachers
  • Guarantee that every child is taught by a qualified teacher, ensuring around 25,000 currently unqualified staff are fully trained during Labour’s first term in office
  • Ensure teachers will have more time for lesson planning and professional development
  • Invest in ensuring that all school buildings are safe, with a new fund of over £7bn to tackle the backlog of vital but overdue repairs and install safety measures such as sprinklers 
  • Close the gap in funding for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, with extra funding to reverse deficits in the High Needs Budget 
  • Fully reverse cuts to the Pupil Premium, and increase spending on it above inflation to support the most disadvantaged pupils.
The total additional investment in schools over three years will amount to £25 billion compared to £14 billion promised by the Conservatives.
The extra funding will be used to raise school standards across the country, with a range of new policies aimed at improving educational outcomes.
There are hundreds of thousands of children currently being taught by unqualified teachers who will be taught by a properly trained and fully qualified teacher under Labour’s plans.
Taken alongside the recruitment of more teachers to meet growing demand for pupil numbers, this means there will be around 50,000 more qualified teachers in our schools in 2023-24 compared to now.
This new investment follows a decade of austerity in schools, with a real terms freeze in schools funding. As the Conservatives have failed to invest in schools, the impact on children’s education has been clear. There are:
  • Over 600,000 children being taught by unqualified teachers, up by hundreds of thousands since 2012
  • Nearly half a million children crammed in to super-sized classes, up by 29% since 2010
  • 128 ‘titan’ primary schools with over 800 pupils, a sevenfold increase since 2010, and over 27,000 children are taught in primary schools of over 1,000 pupils. There were none in 2010.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Labour’s plans for school spending would almost double the increase in per pupil funding being put forward by the Conservatives. IFS data had revealed that the Conservatives’ promised spending would not fully reverse their own cuts to school budgets.
The Conservative manifesto did not commit to maintaining the Pupil Premium, a fund of over £2 billion to support disadvantaged pupils, leading to concerns that it could face further cuts, or even be scrapped altogether.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Labour will transform education standards in this country for every child, capping class sizes and ensuring every child is taught by a qualified teacher in a safe school building.

“We will invest in record per pupil funding, restore the Pupil Premium and close the gap in support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, to give every child the support they need.

“The Tories cannot be trusted to do this. They have slashed school funding for the first time in a generation, leaving pupils taught by unqualified teachers, crammed in to super-sized classes, and not receiving the support they need.”

Commenting on Labour’s strategy to improve education standards through investment, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Labour’s plan for investment in education and in teachers is very welcome news both for parents and the profession.

“The increases in class sizes, the lack of qualified teachers in many classes, the cuts in support for SEND pupils and the growing teacher recruitment and retention crisis, shows the current Government is failing in its basic educational job.

“At the same time our school buildings have been falling into disrepair – all these problems are a direct result of the current Government’s decision to cut real-terms funding to our schools and colleges.

“Children and young people have only one chance to go to school, it deserves to be the best.

“The plan outlined by Labour will address the years of underfunding and allow schools to heal and to plan improvements, increasing SEND support, supporting teachers and other staff, capping class sizes and improving our school buildings.

“It will give hope to teacher and headteachers up and down the country.

“This is exactly the support and vision for education that teachers, headteachers, support staff and parents have been crying out for.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Schools are paying a high price for government cuts, which have starved them of funding for years.

“Slashed staffing numbers, rising class sizes and dilapidated buildings are the legacy of a public-school elite with little interest in providing quality education for every child and young person.

“Labour has unveiled a vision of a progressive education system. Investing in staff, pupils and buildings is the only way to reverse the damage inflicted by a callous, self-serving government.”

Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran said:
“Our schools and colleges should be world class, but instead Conservative cuts  have led to staff being sacked and schools closing early to balance the books.
“While Labour have attempted to copy the Liberal Democrat policy to employ 20,000 more teachers, they have no hope of meeting this target. With thousands of EU teachers coming to work in schools each year, Labour cannot square these promises with delivering Brexit.
“The Liberal Democrats are the party that can stop the Conservatives getting a majority, stop Brexit and build a brighter future for our children.”

  • The £25bn of additional funding corresponds to the Government’s £14bn figure derived from Table 2.3 of Spending Review 2019, which includes funding above 2019-20 levels over the following three years.
  • Labour will cap all class sizes at 30, and employ tens of thousands of additional teachers to ensure that schools have the staff they need to implement it.
  • There are now 24,958 unqualified teachers in state-funded schools – a rise of 28 per cent since 2012.

Unqualified teachers (thousands)

November 2012



% Change

All publicly funded schools





DfE, School workforce in England: November 2018

DfE ,School workforce in England: November 2012

·         New analysis shows that up to 608,975 pupils are being taught by the 24,000 unqualified teachers in state-funded schools in England.

Number of unqualified teachers

Average class size

Total number of children taught by unqualified teachers

All publicly-funded schools




·         The average class size is the average size of one teacher classes across all state-funded primary and secondary schools that provided this information in the January 2018 School Census.

DfE, School workforce in England: November 2018,
DfE, Schools, pupils and their characteristics, January 2019 

·         Areas that unqualified teachers have no guaranteed training in include:

o    How pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching

o    Developments in their subject and curriculum areas

o    Adapting teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils

o    Distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language and those with disabilities

o    Managing behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment

o    The need to safeguard pupils’ well-being.

DfE, Teachers’ Standards, July 2011,

·         There are now over seven times as many ‘titan’ primary schools (those with over 800 pupils) than there were in 2010.



% change since 2010

Number of primary schools with over 800 pupils




·         The number of children crammed into these ‘titan’ primary schools has grown considerably in the last seven years, with 119,571 children currently crammed into primary schools of over 800 pupils.



% change since 2010

Number of pupils in schools with over 800 pupils




Number of pupils in schools with over 1000 pupils



DfE, Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2010

DfE, Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2019

  • Labour analysis of data from the House of Commons Library shows that in 2019 there were nearly half a million (470,104) children in super-sized classes, compared to 365,150 in 2010. This is an increase of nearly a third (29%)
  • The Tories have made no mention of the Pupil Premium in their most recent manifesto. In previous manifestos they have promised to protect funding for the Pupil Premium, which support children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their failure to provide this assurance raises serious concerns that it will be cut further or scrapped.
  • The Conservatives’ 2017 manifesto committed to “protect the Pupil Premium to support those who need it”….pdf, p51  
  • The independent Education Policy Institute have previously found that the Conservatives’ plans to “level up” school funding will disproportionately benefit affluent pupils: “Overall, the average pupil eligible for free school meals would attract an additional £56 under this proposal, while the average pupil not eligible for free school meals would attract an additional £116.”
  • “All but 12 of England’s 163 grammar schools would benefit under this proposal, at an average of over £130,000 each to their total budgets.” 



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