Nick Clegg has placed education at the heart of his party’s election manifesto, pledging to protect per-pupil spending while increasing the education budget as a whole.
The deputy prime minister said the manifesto showed that the Lib Dems were “the party of education”, adding that the document was a “blueprint” for a fairer society providing every child the opportunity to succeed in life.
Following generous childcare giveaways by both the Conservatives and Labour earlier in the week, the main rabbit out of the Lib Dem hat is an extra £2.5bn of funding for two-to -19-year-olds by 2020.
According to the party, the commitment will mean the education budget will rise to £55bn by the end of the Parliament, and will mean spending £5bn a year more than the Tories and £2.5 bn more than Labour by 2020.
The Lib Dem leader said: “We want to ensure that every child, no matter where they are born, the colour of their skin, or how rich their parents are, has the same opportunity to reach their potential is. That’s why the Liberal Democrats are the party of education.
“At the last election, protecting schools spending and investing huge amounts of extra money towards the poorest pupils was one of our top priorities. I am immensely proud that we did just that in government. But we won’t rest there. We are determined to make sure that every child in Britain has a world class education.”
The extra cash was the equivalent of 70,000 teachers, 10,000 learning support assistants and guarantees funding for the additional 460,000 children starting school through the Parliament.
It will also allow the party to “recruit and retain more good teachers, put a qualified teacher in every classroom and expand early years education as pupil numbers grow”.
Cameron launches Tory manifesto with pledge to double free childcare - 14 April 2015
Ed Miliband unveils Labour manifesto with after-school childcare pledge - 13 April 2015