A plan to recruit 25,000 more teachers by 2023-24 is among several new pledges being announced by the Labour Party today as part of its drive to improve education standards.
Following the release of its manifesto last month, in which it pledged a £10.5 billion real-terms funding boost for schools, Labour has today released further plans for schools.
They include a pledge to ensure that teachers will have more time for lesson planning and professional development, which, Labour says, would be a knock-on effect of having more teachers in the system.
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And there is a pledge to ensure that around 25,000 unqualified teaching staff currently working in schools are fully trained over the next five years so that "every child is taught by a qualified teacher".
The Labour plans also include:
Capping all class sizes in both primary and secondary at 30 pupils.
Investing an extra £7 billion (in addition to the £10.5 billion) to tackle a “backlog” of repairs and install safety measures in schools, such as sprinklers.
Investing £690 million for special needs next year (in addition to the £10.5 billion).
Increasing pupil premium amounts by above-inflation levels.
In a statement issued today, Labour said the total number of extra qualified teachers in the schools by 2023-24 would be “around 50,000”. A Labour spokesperson said this would include the 25,000 currently unqualified staff (who would be qualified by then) as well as 20,000 new teachers plus a further 5,000 teachers specifically to cope with rising pupil numbers in secondary schools.
More teachers needed
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who was this morning due to meet parents and staff outside the school gates at a school in her Ashton-under-Lyne constituency, 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 into super-sized classes and not receiving the support they need."
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, welcomed the extra funds promised by Labour. But he added: "However, on recruitment, Labour are well short of the 47,000 secondary teachers and 8,000 primary teachers that are needed by 2024 in order to keep pace with growing pupil numbers. We need significantly more recruits than Labour are suggesting just to meet rising demand, never mind reduce current class sizes.
“The new recruits we need will not magically appear, and nor will they stay if we don’t also address the stress and unnecessary workload that is widespread in the system.”