Rayner: ‘Tories must address damage done by cuts’

The Labour shadow education secretary argues that Conservative policies have made it harder than ever for disadvantaged children to succeed in school

Angela Rayner

What did Angela Rayner have to say on the Labour Party's plans for FE?

I’ve argued before that Ofsted’s judgements too often reflect the affluence of a school’s intake as well as the social background of its pupils, rather than the performance of the school itself.

In other words, schools with more working-class kids are more likely to be rated ”inadequate” than ”good”, and are less likely to improve in subsequent inspections.

This isn’t fair, and it’s one of the reasons Labour believes that school inspections need a radical overhaul.

However, these problems go beyond Ofsted. While independent, Ofsted is, ultimately, a branch of government. It can only operate within a system and within policies set by the Department for Education.

Looking holistically

Reforming Ofsted isn’t enough to improve the lives of working-class pupils.

Instead, we need to look holistically: we need to address the damage of Tory education policy.

However, I’d need an entire issue of Tes to go through each and every failing of this government in education alone, so I’ll try to be concise.

The Queen’s Speech, for instance, had virtually nothing to say about education.

And the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that when schools finally receive the new money they were promised, they will still be hundreds of millions of pounds worse off than they were in 2010.

Furthermore, the money going into schools, under the guise of “levelling-up”, is going to affluent institutions rather than disadvantaged schools. This is senseless.

Harder to succeed

The majority of disadvantaged pupils don’t even get access to a breakfast club. Many are not eligible for free school meals,.

The rise in child poverty, driven by Tory cuts to social security, is making it harder for children to succeed in schools.

In addition, capital funding for education, which has already been cut by 40 per cent since the Tories came to power more than nine years ago, will continue to fall even further.

The challenges are most severe for those pupils who need the most support.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities are also being disadvantaged. Despite the promise of additional funding in the spending review, councils are still expected to face a budget shortfall on high needs, and there is no certainty beyond next year.

For Budget 2020, the government needs to amend these mistakes. Not to do so would be a social injustice.

Angela Rayner is Labour's shadow education secretary

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Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner is member of parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne and Labour’s shadow education secretary

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