Teachers are spending too much time plugging the gaps left by cuts to other services and not enough hours in the classroom, according to the leader of the Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn made the comments in Blackpool today while setting out plans for a new National Education Service, to be included in the Labour manifesto, which aims to ensure "everyone can learn at every stage of their lives".
Mr Corbyn also said he felt "angry" to hear of schools closing on a Friday "because they can't pay their bills".
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Mr Corbyn said: "Teachers are spending more and more time filling the gaps left by cuts to other services and not spending enough time teaching.
"They’re having to buy uniforms and even mattresses for pupils whose parents can’t afford them.
"I’ve met teachers who tell me some pupils can’t concentrate in lessons due to hunger.
"This is 2019 – not the 1930s. Let’s do right by our children."
Laying out his plans to build "the best education service in the world" for Britain, Mr Corbyn said the Labour Party would pledge:
- Free schools meals for every child in primary school – funded by VAT-added private school fees.
- An end to "unnecessary" Sats exams.
- An end to the "divisive" academy and free schools programme.
- A guarantee that all primary school classes would cater for fewer than 30 pupils.
- Thirty hours of free childcare for all two- to four-year-olds.
- Free university tuition for all.
He added: "I see education as an escalator running alongside you throughout life that you can get on and off whenever you want. That’s what Labour’s National Education Service will offer people – free education, as a right for all.
"Under our plan, skills and vocational qualifications will be valued the same as university degrees. So, if you left school with few GCSEs but now want to learn a new trade, Labour will make education free for you.
"If you’ve done the same job for your whole working life and want to change direction, Labour will make education free for you. And if you’ve always wanted to learn new skills but can’t afford the training, Labour will make education free for you.
"The National Education Service will allow you to pursue your dreams."
Criticising the Conservative Party's austerity measures, he said: "Children only have one childhood. Are they going to apologise to every child who has had their education damaged because of the Conservatives’ cruel political choices?
"They would if they cared about our country’s children as much as they care about their rich mates."
The Conservatives said their own polling showed that the electorate knew the money – due to kick in over three years from April – was on its way.