Prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Mary Varrall has welcomed Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg's announcement this week of a 'Five Point Plan' for teachers and parents.
The policy is in direct response to Tory plans to slash £5.2 billion from the education budget; threatening teachers’ jobs and training across the UK. The scale of cuts is equivalent to axing four starter salary teachers in every school in England.
Education funding is a front page manifesto commitment and the Liberal Democrats have guaranteed education funding from cradle to college, believing that every child should have the right to achieve their full potential, regardless of the circumstances into which they were born.
In government, we are proud to have delivered the Pupil Premium, worth £2.5 billion a year, to help support the most disadvantaged pupils. Research shows that the Pupil Premium is helping to close the attainment gap between rich and poor children in schools. The Liberal Democrats are the only party to guarantee the protection of per pupil funding in real terms over the next five years.
The Liberal Democrat five point commitment for teachers and parents will:
1. Provide an additional £2.5 billion of funding for 2-19 year olds by 2020; protecting per pupil education spending in real terms over the next parliament and increasing the education budget as a whole.
2. Guarantee all teachers in state-funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by September 2016.
3. Establish the Royal College of Teachers to oversee QTS and professional development and support the Teach First programme to attract high calibre graduates into teaching, in particular to STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
4. Establish a new National Leadership Institute to promote high-quality leadership targeting the most challenging schools in the UK.
5. Get politics out of the classroom. We will give teachers more freedom over what they can teach by introducing a minimum curriculum entitlement – a slimmed-down core national curriculum, which will be taught in all state-funded schools. We will also establish an Independent Educational Standards Authority (ESA) to remove ministerial interference in curriculum content and exam standards.
Announcing the new measures, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said: “A good education has the power to give every child the opportunity to succeed in life. But you can’t get a world-class education without world-class teachers. As the economy grows, we must invest further in education, giving teachers the gold-standard qualifications they are due and the freedom they need to teach future generations.
“If you are a teacher, be assured the Liberal Democrats will get politics out of the classroom. Our plans will recruit, retain and reward good teachers. If you are a parent, be assured your children will get a world-class education from world-class teachers.
“In Coalition the Liberal Democrats stopped the Tories cutting the schools budget. Only with Liberal Democrats in Government will education get the respect and protection it needs.”
Commenting on the new Five Point plan, prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Mary Varall said: “By following this plan, we will attract the strongest candidates into the teaching profession and drive up educational standards in every school by ending political interference and providing new opportunities for professional development. Britain can then be confident that its future workforce will be well-placed to compete in a global marketplace.”