What the general election will mean for education

CREDIT: This story was first seen in Tes 

Conservatives are likely to seek a mandate to create new grammar schools. But heads fear that education issues will be overlooked amid the furore over Brexit during the general election campaign.

Education issues are likely to be overshadowed by Brexit in the coming general election campaign, headteachers have warned.

On Tuesday 18, Theresa May called a snap election for June 8, citing the need for “strong and stable leadership” during the Brexit process.

The Conservative Party is likely to put the creation of new grammar schools at the centre of its education plans.

An election victory would therefore give it a mandate to push through the prime minister’s flagship domestic policy in the face of likely opposition in the House of Lords.

School funding is likely to be another key flashpoint, with the sector having to find £3bn of savings by 2019-20, according to the National Audit Office, and thousands of schools set to lose out under the proposed national funding formula.

In recent weeks, a growing number of Conservative backbenchers have joined opposition MPs in raising concerns about the effect of the formula on schools in their constituencies.

As well as highlighting funding, and vigorously opposing the Conservatives on grammar schools, the Labour Party is likely to promote Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for a national education service – a lifelong service from early years to adult education.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union the NAHT, said: “There are vital domestic issues to tackle; many school leaders will fear that education has been forgotten at the expense of Brexit.

“There are crises like teacher recruitment and the £3bn of cuts the government expects schools to make, that should not be forgotten during the election campaign. Delay could have disastrous consequences for children and for schools.”

Neil Carmichael, chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, told Tes that he thought education would play “quite a big role” in the election campaign, with funding and the skills gap prominent in the debate.

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Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, the largest teachers’ union, said: “This country must have a government that will invest in education. In the general election, we will press all parties to give commitments that if elected, they will invest and not cut education.”

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