A Liberal Democrat government will invest in a brighter future for every child. By the end of the next Parliament, we will spend an extra £10 billion a year on improving our schools, enabling them to hire 20,000 more teachers.
By stopping Brexit, our economy will grow faster and the government won’t have to spend billions replacing the EU’s existing programmes in the UK. Our “remain bonus” will give us £50 billion more over five years to spend on our public services.
And boy, our schools need it.
The Conservative government has shamefully neglected education. Since 2015, they have cut school budgets to the bone. Thousands of schools have been left with no option but to ask parents for handouts to afford basic supplies. Hundreds have cut back on teaching hours or the number of subjects on offer. Teaching assistants and other support staff have been axed.
But Boris Johnson doesn’t think schools funding is an issue in this election. It is staggering how out of touch he is. Since I was first elected in 2017, I don’t think I’ve met a single teacher who hasn’t expressed deep concern about how their school will make ends meet.
The Conservatives and Labour are willing to squander our young people’s futures by pushing ahead with a damaging, costly Brexit. Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and invest in the next generation.
We will reverse school cuts with an emergency cash boost in our first year in office – giving schools the same core spending power per pupil in today’s money that they had back in 2015. Then, we’ll make sure that this money keeps up with rising costs and pupil numbers, so that schools have more than £10 billion extra to spend in 2024 than they do this year.
But we can’t stop there. Our schools are crying out for more staff. The number of secondary school teachers has fallen by 10,000 since 2014. Class sizes are going up. Stagnant pay and our high-stakes testing culture are driving thousands of talented teachers out of the job they love.
A survey conducted for the government last year told us that teachers value having more staff as more important than increasing their own pay. More secondary school heads are concerned about the impact of staff shortages on their pupils’ education than in any other country in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
That’s why Liberal Democrats have a plan to attract and retain 20,000 more teachers over five years. We will give schools the cash to fully fund a pay rise of at least 3 per cent per year for all their teaching staff, and increase teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000. We will properly fund 50 hours a year of high-quality professional development, so teachers can keep learning and improving throughout their careers.
And most importantly, we will trust teachers to get on with the job of teaching. Liberal Democrats will stop politicians constantly meddling with the national curriculum by handing control of it over to an independent, expert-led body, who will make sure it is fit for the future and who will phase curriculum reforms in over time. And we’ll end the stress and anxiety that our high-stakes testing regime, that does nothing to improve standards, places on teachers and pupils.
We can’t let Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn push ahead with Brexit and squander opportunities for our young people. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit, reverse school cuts and build a brighter future for our children.
Layla Moran is a former teacher and the Liberal Democrat education spokesperson