Key manifesto pledges – What the five main political parties are saying about education

Schoolbooks in a pileIf education is a deciding factor in how you’ll vote on Thursday you’ll be interested in comparing the key pledges from the five main parties. All the party manifestos highlight a political desire to improve the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland. Here at Enquire, we are particularly pleased that many of the commitments are aimed at improving education in general but also ensuring an inclusive educational experience for children with additional support needs. We are also pleased that there are strong commitments to improving mental health services in Scotland which we know is a major issue impacting directly on children and young people.

Here’s a helpful summary of the key education pledges that the five main political parties are committing to:

Scottish National Party

  • Ensure that every child in early education in the most deprived communities will have access to an additional teacher or childcare graduate by 2018
  • Expand the Attainment Fund and invest an additional £750m in the next parliament to close the gap in educational attainment
  • Introduce national standardised assessments in primaries 1, 4, 7 and in S3 to provide better information on how children are progressing as part of the National Improvement Framework.

Scottish Labour Party

  • Protect education spending in real terms
  • Establish a Fair Start Fund to give nursery and primary head teachers direct control over more resources
  • Give every primary school the opportunity to establish a breakfast club
  • Establish a nationwide initiative to introduce first-class education in IT and computer coding in all schools
  • Create a new statutory obligation on government to report on the attainment gap between children from lower and higher-income backgrounds. We will bring in measures of success in closing the gap as part of the school inspection system
  • Pause the implementation of the Named Person scheme and ask the Children’s Commissioner to carry out a full review
  • Use the proceeds from the “sugar tax” to support investment in after-school sport

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

  • Extend free nursery hours to a higher proportion of disadvantaged two-year-olds and disadvantaged one-year-olds in the first instance
  • Allow schools and school leaders to be given “real decision-making powers and the freedom to express their individual values, ethos and character”
  • Put new measures in place to ensure the best possible teachers are recruited, particularly in STEM subjects
  • Encourage the Scottish Government to be “far bolder” in measuring progress in the education system and re-enter Scottish pupils into all of the main international comparison tests

Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • Increase income tax rates by 1p across all bands to raise more than £500m each year to invest in education
  • Reverse cuts to education budgets
  • Introduce a “pupil premium” given to schools to put towards closing the attainment gap between wealthy and more deprived pupils
  • Extend free nursery provision to all two-year-old children, with extra support for the most vulnerable families from an earlier age

Scottish Green Party

  • Funding an additional 4,000 full-time equivalent teachers
  • Providing help for all pupils experiencing poverty
  • Ensuring education in schools is LGBTI+ inclusive and without fear of prejudice or bullying

Read our blog on what practical steps Children in Scotland think are needed to improve children’s lives.

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