Election countdown: Watch school leaders discuss their election priorities

School leaders at the Inspiring Leadership conference discuss what the 2017 general election means for education

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The 2017 general election will be crucial in determining the future of the education system.

At the Inspiring Leadership conference in Birmingham, Tes caught up with leading figures from the education world to ask them what the key education issues have been in this election campaign – and what they want to see from the next government.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said funding has "boringly and predictably" been the "big issue" for education during this election.

"School leaders are having to make really difficult decisions and those decisions essentially are which teachers do we have to lose and which class sizes do we have to make larger.

"We haven’t really had a good answer from the Conservatives...there’s been some fudge over it."

Mr Barton said he was surprised more had not been made of the Conservatives' plans to roll out new grammar schools.

While he opposes an expansion of selection, he said if it does materialise, ASCL will "help to make that as effective as it can be, and we’ll certainly look at good practice where children from disadvantaged backgrounds are doing well".

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the NAHT heads' union, agreed that identifying the number one education issue "is an easy one for schools – it's funding".

On the recruitment and retention crisis, he said many of the political parties' policies amounted to "tinkering around the margins".

Mr Hobby said there were a number of immediate things the next education secretary should do, including following through the primary assessment consultation, sorting out funding and improving teacher pay. But after this, he said, they should "put their feet up and have a nice quiet time of it" to end political interference in the education system.

Sian Carr, executive principal of the Skinner's Kent Academy, said the funding situation was "probably the toughest I’ve known it as a school leader". 

"This is really getting to the stage now the quality of what we can provide in our schools is going to be tested very significantly if there is not an injection into school budgets." 

She also said politicians had failed to set out "a vision for our country as to what it really means to have a high quality, high class, excellent education system".

"I think that’s a real miss on behalf of all of our political parties," she added.

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For all the latest news, views and analysis in the run up to voting day, visit our general election 2017 hub.

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