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Coverage of arts education and skills in the party manifestos

Conservative Party Election Manifesto GE2024

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On 11 June the Conservative Party published its manifesto: ‘Clear Plan, Bold Action, Secure Future’. The Party has centred much of its manifesto overall on its commitments to grow the economy, provide young people with opportunities to develop skills and to support the labour market, and address issues surrounding migration and health.

Education forms a central part of the manifesto, with commitments on improving parental support and childcare, strengthening the standard of primary and secondary education, and improving opportunities in further education and skills training. The Party has formed these commitments around an aspiration where ‘young people always get the skills they need to succeed.’ They aim to 100,000 new apprenticeships in England every year by the end of the next Parliament – paid for by curbing the number of poor-quality university degrees. Two points to note included:

On schools:

  • Support children in their transition to secondary school and ensure they continue to receive a broad and ‘enriched’ education during and after school, including via the multi-million-pound Music Hubs.

On further education and skills:

  • Work with the creative industries to deliver a dedicated flexible coordination service so that everyone who wants to work in the film, TV, gaming and music sectors can work on live productions whilst benefiting from at least 12 months of secure training.

OUr Take

It’s important to say that not a whole lot was said about arts and creative subjects in comparison with other manifestos. The strategic prioritisation of non-arts subjects was maintained through the announcement of tax-free bonuses of £30,000 for teachers in STEM and ‘technical’ subjects (also extended to teachers in FE colleges). As we have observed in past newsletters, every young person being made to study maths to age 18 may not go down well with students who particularly lean towards arts and humanities subjects. Maths and sport get plenty of coverage, but the arts only get a specific mention in relation to music, long held to be the highest art form by the Conservative party, with a pledge to ensure children continue to receive a ‘broad and enriched’ education during and after school, including via the ‘multi-million-pound Music Hubs.’ (Look out for an article on the far from simple situation with Music Hubs in our July newsletter).

The Conservatives will maintain parental choice by preserving the rights of independent schools and grammar schools and refrain from taxing independent special schools. See our 2024 Report Card for details of the clear and divisive ‘enrichment gap’ in our education system.

There is also a continuation of the narrative about ‘rip off’ degrees which we would counter by reiterating the statement we recently gave to Arts Professional on this subject: ‘It is not helpful for government policy to prioritise learning to count over learning to create, nor the amount a new graduate earns over their contribution to society. When a government determines that Expressive Arts subjects are strategically unimportant the arts become systematically eroded in schools and in the higher education sector, even when we know that as well as being valuable for young people’s wellbeing, the capacities, confidence, creativity and skills gained through arts subjects are being increasingly prioritised by employers. This is wider than just degree qualifications: a system with the objective of creating the employees of the future is failing to embrace what employers say they want from young people entering the workforce. The new government’s investment areas and industrial strategy need to align with a new and ambitious national education and skills strategy, with arts and creative subjects embedded as valued and equal subjects areas in schools, and across the university sector.’

We also note that there is no mention of the Cultural Education Plan announced in 2022 and which has still not been published.

Early Years and Families

The manifesto includes several early years and childcare related commitments that build on existing programmes, with a focus on free childcare and school wrap-around services, and the Party announced several policy recommendations surrounding those in the care system and adoptive families.


On funding, the Party announced its intention to:

  • Ensure that day-to-day school spending per pupil is maintained during the next parliament.
  • Allocate almost £3 billion from the pupil premium over the next year to support disadvantaged children reach their full potential.

The manifesto set out the Party’s commitment to address the recruitment and retention crisis by: 

  • Providing teachers in priority areas and key STEM and technical subjects with tax-free bonuses of up to £30,000 over five years, beginning in September 2024, which they will extend to eligible teachers in further education colleges.
  • Attracting more teachers through the recruitment and retention premium and an ambition to reduce teacher workload.

To reduce bullying and address school attendance, the Conservatives announced they will: ban mobile phones during the school day on a statutory footing; open a consultation on introducing further parental controls over access to children’s social media; continue to work with schools and local authorities to improve school attendance, including through more mental health support; and create a register of children not in school, to ensure more children are receiving a high-quality education, whether in school or through home-schooling. Sex education was also addressed through legislation promises.

There was a great deal on school sport. The manifesto pledged to:

  • Mandate two hours of Physical Education (PE) in both primary and secondary schools, supported through the extension of the PE and Sport Premium to secondary schools. 
  • Create more UK-wide school sport competitions to identify the best sporting talents.
  • Increase funding for School Games Organisers to get more competitive sport into and between schools.

On teaching and learning, the Party will: 

  • Introduce the Advanced British Standard, which will be a new approach to 16-19 learning, building on A Levels and T Levels to provide a more rounded education that encompasses academic and technical skills, meaning every young person will spend more time in the classroom and will learn English and Maths until the age of 18.
  • Support teachers in primary schools to use tried and tested techniques, including the existing phonics programme and the mastery approach to maths, to ensure every child can master these learning foundations before they enter secondary education.
  • Support children in their transition to secondary school and ensure they continue to receive a broad and enriched education during and after school, including via the multi-million-pound Music Hubs.

Another priority for the Party is school buildings. It will:

  • Continue to rebuild over 500 schools through the School Rebuilding Programme, including rebuilding or refurbishing every school impacted by RAAC.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) remains an education priority, with the Party announcing it will:

  • Deliver 60,000 more school places and a further 15 new free schools for children with special educational needs.

On Ofsted, the Party will:

  • Back Ofsted to provide clear judgements to parents on the quality and safety of schools.

There were several announcements on the school system. The Conservatives will:

  • Expand strong multi-academy trusts, building on previous efforts to increase the number of academies and deliver free schools.
  • Maintain parental choice by preserving the rights of independent schools and grammar schools and refrain from taxing independent special schools.
  • Lift the cap on faith schools, allowing them to offer more places to children based on faith and encouraging them to expand.
  • Ban protests outside schools to stop mobs from intimidating teachers and children, supporting teachers to uphold and promote fundamental British values and ensure they are protected from accusations of blasphemy.

Young People

The Conservatives announced several broader policies that would impact young people, such as a national service requirement and gender identity regulations. It will:

  • Introduce a mandatory National Service for all school leavers at 18, with the choice between a competitive placement in the military or civic service roles, which will be funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund starting in 2027. 
  • Introduce legislation to clarify protected sex in the Equality Act refers to biological sex, as well as guarantee provision to single-sex services and spaces and legislate that an individual can only have one sex in the eyes of the UK law.
  • Refrain from banning conversion therapy for young people, in light of the Cass Review Final Report, an independent review of gender identity services for children and young people, which recommended further evaluation of the risks and benefits of any gender identity intervention.
  • Prioritise equal access for women and girls in the ongoing programme of investment in grassroots sports facilities.
  • Continue to support programmes that encourage disadvantaged children and young people to access green spaces.
  • Extend the £2 bus fare cap in England for the entirety of the next Parliament, benefitting young people and low-income households.

Further Education and Skills

In the manifesto, the Party outlines several commitments to supporting the growth of apprenticeships and training. These include:

  • Extend the above-mentioned STEM and technical subjects bonuses to eligible teachers in further education (FE) colleges.
  • Continue to support and celebrate FE colleges.
  • Work with the creative industry to deliver a dedicated flexible coordination service so that everyone who wants to work in the film, TV, gaming and music sectors can work on live productions whilst benefiting from at least 12 months of secure training.

The Party also announced plans to increase opportunities for flexible skills development by:

  • Deliver the Lifelong Learning Entitlement to provide adults with the support they need to train, retrain and upskill flexibly throughout their working lives. From the 2025 academic year, adults will be able to apply for loans to cover new qualifications.
  • Continue to expand adult skills programmes such as Skills Bootcamps which meet skills shortages.
  • Support the National Citizen Service to help young people build confidence and develop the skills they need to thrive.
  • Extend the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for three years at the next Spending Review, before using this funding to support UK-wide National Service, involving funding community groups focused on increasing life chances, instilling civic pride and boosting people’s skills.

Higher Education

Though not featured heavily, the Party announced some commitments for higher education (HE). It plans to:

  • Fund the increase in apprenticeship provision by closing university courses in England with what they describe as the worst outcomes for their students, including those with excessive drop-out rates or that leave students worse off than had they not gone to university.
  • Restrict courses with excessive drop-out rates from recruiting students, regulated by the Office for Students.
  • Work with universities to ensure students get the contact hours they are promised, and their exams are marked.

There were several announcements about free speech and hatred. The Party will:

  • Take a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitic behaviour by pledging £54 million for the Community Security Trust to give Jewish schools and synagogues the securing measures they need and allocating additional funding to support schools and universities to understand, recognise and tackle antisemitism.
  • Take a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Muslim behaviour and seek to stamp it out wherever it occurs by providing £117 million over four years to the Protective Security for Mosques scheme and supporting Tell MAMA’s work.
  • Deliver the Freedom of Speech Act to protect free speech and open debate in universities.

Mental Health

The Party announced plans to improve mental health support, including for young people, and are planning to:

  • Expand coverage of Mental Health Support Teams from 30% to 100% of schools and colleges in England by 2030.
  • Open early support hubs for those aged 11-23 in every local community by 2030.

GREEN Party Election Manifesto GE2024

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On 12 June the Green Party launched its manifesto – ‘Real Hope. Real Change’. The manifesto centres around security and sustainable development, addressing the climate emergency and creating a ‘greener, fairer’ future for Britain. As part of the Green Party’s mission to make ambitious commitments to create a fairer and greener world, proposed education policies include:

  • Move academy trusts and free schools to local authority control.
  • Abolish the two-child benefit cap, lifting 250,000 children out of poverty.
  • Provide all children with a free school meal each day and provide free breakfast clubs for children to Year 6.
  • Support every higher education student, with the restoration of grants, the end of tuition fees and the cancellation of graduate debt, as well as restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance to financially support young people to extend their studies after the age of 16.

On the arts, there were only two main points of relevance including:

  • Review assessment targets in schools to treat arts and vocational subjects equally within the curriculum, as well as supporting children to play and learn outdoors and teach all children about the climate and biodiversity.
  • Introduce a £5bn investment to support community sports, arts and culture to support grassroots sports clubs and fund keeping local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open and thriving.

OUr Take

We welcome the review of assessment targets in line with our own manifesto asks, the support for arts and culture through communities, and the focus on children’s mental health. We also welcome the re-establishment of the Education Maintenance Allowance for FE students in England, which was scrapped by the Coalition Government in 2010. However, the manifesto stops short of creating an entitlement for Expressive Arts education in schools.

Early Years, Children and Families

  • Invest an additional £3 billion to enable local authorities to provide high-quality children’s social care.
  • Advocate for £1.4 billion per year to be invested by local authorities in Sure Start Centres.


  • Incorporate growing, preparing and cooking food, as part of the core curriculum in schools.
  • Remove charitable status from private schools and charge full VAT on fees – though private school places for children with SEND will be exempt until public sector capacity increases.
  • Implement a trained and paid counsellor in every school and sixth-form college and fully restore the role of the school nurse, giving all schools access to an on-site medical professional.
  • Increase school funding by £8 billion, including £2 billion for a pay uplift for teachers.
  • Invest £2.5 billion a year on the maintenance of school buildings and resolving the RAAC crisis.
  • End high-stakes testing at primary and secondary schools and abolish Ofsted.
  • Retain a full, evidence-based and age-appropriate programme of Relationships, Sex and Health Education – including LGBTQIA+ content and resources.
  • Push for £5 billion to be invested in special needs (SEND) provision within mainstream schools, creating fully accessible buildings and specially trained teachers, and local councils having funds to properly support SEND students at school and in getting to school.
  • Ensure effective delivery of the new Natural History GCSE.
  • Allow access to school sports facilities by local clubs outside teaching hours to ensure maximum use.
  • Completely restore the role of the school nurse, ensuring that all schools have access to an on-site medical professional.

Further Education and Skills

  • Invest in skills and training reaching £4 billion per year, allowing workers to be prepared for the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
  • Increase funding for sixth-form education by £3 billion over the next parliamentary term and invest £12 billion in skills and lifelong learning for further education.

Research and Development

  • Increase investment into research and development by over £30 billion in the lifetime of the five-year parliament, particularly to tackle the climate and environmental crisis through research.
  • Push the UK government to partner with universities, other research institutions and businesses to assess the most economically and environmentally significant areas for research and development.

Higher Education & Teaching

  • Re-join the Erasmus Programme.
  • Push for migrants, including students, to be allowed to bring family members to the UK who would normally live with them in their country of origin.
  • Address the challenges posed by changes to employer contributions for the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).

Young People, Health and Social Care

  • Give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote and to stand for parliament and other elected offices.
  • Introduce a legal framework that supports the rights of those struggling with their mental health to be respected and to live fulfilling lives.
  • Increase funding for mental health care, putting it on an equal footing with physical health care and enabling people to access evidence-based mental health therapies within 28 days.
  • Use youth workers rather than police officers to work with pupils in schools.
  • Mandate local councils to provide free transport for 16–18-year-old pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Increase annual public subsidies for bus travel to make bus travel free for all under-18s.
  • Fund councils to extend staying put arrangements, so fostered young people can choose to stay with foster parents until they are 21.
  • Provide free dental nursing for children, as well as those on low incomes, through community hubs and primary medical care.

Community and Culture

  • Introduce a £5bn investment to support community sports, arts and culture to support grassroots sports clubs and fund keeping local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open and thriving.
  • Provide readily available tailored provision to meet the needs of communities of colour, children and adolescents, older people and LGBTIQA+ communities.

Labour Election Manifesto GE2024

On 13 June the Labour Party published its manifesto – ‘Change’ – which outlines Labour’s ‘First Steps for Change’ to improve Britain. Labour has positioned itself as the Party to deliver significant reform following the Conservative Party’s time in government, with change being a core message throughout the manifesto.

The Party has provided a lot of detail on its education pledges, and has centred many of its education priorities around its mission to break down barriers to ensure all young people get the opportunities they deserve. Securing economic stability for Britain is a thread running throughout the manifesto, with Labour identifying high-quality education and skills training as being central to achieving this. Labour aims to get more teachers into shortage subjects, support areas that face recruitment challenges and tackle retention issues, and introduce a new teacher training entitlement.

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They will launch an expert-led review of curriculum and assessment, working with school staff, parents and employers, and want to build on the work of teachers who have brought their subjects alive with knowledge-rich syllabuses to deliver a curriculum which is rich and broad, inclusive and innovative. ‘Every child should have a broad curriculum with an excellent foundation in reading, writing and maths, and support to develop essential digital, speaking and creative skills’. They state that the review will consider the right balance of assessment methods.

On the creative arts, it highlights:

  • Supporting children to study a creative or vocational subject until they are 16, and ensuring accountability measures reflect this.
  • Implementing a creative industries sector action plan as part of the party’s Industrial Strategy, creating jobs and accelerating growth in film, music, gaming and other creative sectors.
  • Launching a new National Music Education Network – a one-stop shop with information on courses and classes for parents, teachers and children.


We welcome the review of curriculum and assessment (and the curriculum intention wording – ‘broad, inclusive and innovative’) and hope that the review will be deep and far-reaching, also addressing the purposes of schooling, and mapping curriculum areas onto purposes. With regard to reviewing assessment, we hope that scrapping the EBacc altogether is not off the table.

While we welcome interest in music education, we hope that policy attention and investment are directed towards all Expressive Arts subjects and not just music. We value the mission to break down barriers to opportunity for young people, and we support the link between education and industry with the identification of high-quality education and skills training being central to achieving economic stability. We also value the commitment to a creative industries sector action plan and the intention to replace a single Ofsted headline grade with a new report card system.

It is also important to note that one of the main headings under the ‘Break down barriers to opportunity’ section in the manifesto is entitled ‘Access to arts, music and sport’ – a small detail, but nevertheless important in reflecting a commitment to the arts and recognition of their importance in education.

Early Years and Children

The Labour Party has committed to policies that will improve the quality and availability of childcare, as well as support children. These include:

  • Expanding the childcare and early years’ system by opening an additional 3,000 nurseries through upgrading space in primary schools to deliver the extension of government-funded childcare hours.
  • Focusing on the improvement of numeracy skills in nurseries and primary schools, emulating the last Labour government’s phonics programme.
  • Developing an ambitious strategy to reduce child poverty by working with the voluntary sector, faith organisations, trade unions, businesses, devolved and local governments and communities.
  • Strengthening regulation of the children’s social care sector.


The Party has reaffirmed its commitment to policies that aim to address the recruitment and retention crisis in schools, drive educational attainment and provide children and young people with the support they need in order to learn.

  • Recruit 6,500 new teachers – a commitment which has been included in Labour’s ‘first steps for change.’
  • End the VAT exemption and business rates relief for private schools to invest in state schools.
  • Fund free breakfast clubs for primary school pupils, to support improved behaviour, attendance and learning and support parents through the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Review how bursaries for teachers are allocated, as well as the structure of retention payments.
  • Update the Early Career Framework, maintaining its grounding in evidence, and ensure any new teacher entering the classroom has, or is working towards, Qualified Teacher Status.
  • Introduce a new Teacher Training Entitlement to ensure teachers stay up to date on best practices with continuing professional development.
  • Reinstate the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, which will help address the acute recruitment and retention crisis in support roles.
  • Enhance the inspection regime by replacing a single headline grade with a new report card system, bringing multi-academy trusts into the inspection system and introducing a new annual review of safeguarding, attendance and off-rolling.
  • Take a community-wide approach to supporting pupils with SEND, improving inclusivity and expertise in mainstream schools, as well as ensuring special schools cater to those with the most complex needs, requiring all schools to co-operate with their local authority on school admissions, SEND inclusion and place planning.
  • Support children to study a creative or vocational subject until they are 16, and ensure accountability measures reflect this.
  • Fund evidence-based early-language interventions in primary schools.
  • Create a new Excellence in Leadership Programme, a mentoring framework that expands the capacity of headteachers and leaders to improve their schools. Labour will introduce new Regional Improvement Teams, to enhance school-to-school support and spread best practice.
  • Get more children active by protecting time for physical education and supporting the role grassroots clubs play in expanding access to sport.
  • Limit the number of branded items of uniform and PE kit that schools can require.

Young People

  • The Party has committed to several policies to support young people’s mental health, protect them online and keep them from being drawn into crime. These include: 
  • Creating a new Young Futures programme with a network of hubs reaching every community, which will have youth workers, mental health support workers and careers advisers on hand to support young people’s mental health. This combined with developing prevention partnerships will help identify and support young people who are at risk of being drawn into crime.
  • Supporting children whose parent(s) are imprisoned to identify and offer them support to break the cycle of entering crime.
  • Ensuring schools address misogyny and teach young people about healthy relationships and consent.
  • Building on the Online Safety Act, and exploring further measures to keep young people safe, particularly when using social media.
  • Banning vapes from being branded and advertised to appeal to children and banning advertising junk food to children as well as the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to under-16s, in order to reduce obesity and nicotine addiction. 
  • Giving 16-17-year-olds the right to vote in all elections.

Further Education and Skills

Skills remain a prominent policy issue for the Labour Party, with many announcements being made in the manifesto including:

  • Bringing Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service together to provide a national jobs and careers service, focusing on getting people into work and helping them get on at work.
  • Devolving funding so local areas can shape a joined-up work, health and skills offer for local people.
  • Establishing Skills England to bring together business, training providers and unions with national and local government to ensure there is the highly-trained workforce needed to deliver Labour’s Industrial Strategy.

On apprenticeships and training provision, the Party announced its intention to:

  • Reform the Apprenticeship Levy by creating a flexible Growth and Skills Levy, with Skills England consulting on eligible courses to ensure qualifications offer value for money.
  • Transform FE colleges into specialist Technical Excellence Colleges which will work with businesses, trade unions and local government to provide young people with better opportunities and the highly-trained workforce that local economies need.
  • Establish a youth guarantee of access to training, an apprenticeship or support to find work for all 18- to 21-year-olds, to bring down the number of young people who are not learning or earning.
  • Guarantee two weeks of work experience for every young person and improve careers advice in schools and colleges.

Research and Innovation

Labour has made several pledges to drive research and innovation, including:

  • Scrapping short-term funding cycles for key research and development (R&D) institutions in favour of ten-year budgets that allow meaningful partnerships with industry to keep the UK at the forefront of global innovation.
  • Working closely with universities to support spinouts.
  • Supporting widening devolution so local leaders work with major employers, universities, colleges and industry bodies to produce long-term plans that identify growth sectors and put in place the programmes and infrastructure they need to thrive, aligning with the Industrial Strategy.

Higher Education

The Party made some significant pledges relating to higher education including:

  • Developing a post-16 Strategy to set out the role of different providers and how students can move between institutions, as well as strengthening regulation.
  • Creating a secure future for higher education and the opportunities it creates across the UK in light of current financial challenges.
  • Acting to improve access to universities and raise teaching standards.
  • Working with universities to deliver for students and the economy.

Mental Health

The Party announced its intention to improve access to mental health support through pledges including:

  • Providing access to specialist mental health professionals in every school to ensure every young person has access to early support to address problems before they escalate.
  • Making sure every community has an open-access hub for children and young people with drop-in mental health support through Youth Futures Hubs.


Labour has made several commitments to provide additional support to families, including:

  • Committing to reviewing Universal Credit so that it tackles poverty.
  • Committing to reviewing the parental leave system to support working families, within the first year of government.
  • Working with local government to support children in care, including through kinship, foster care and adoption.
  • Improving data sharing across services, with a single unique identifier, to better support children and families.

Liberal Democrat Election Manifesto GE2024

On 10 June the Liberal Democrats published their manifesto, ‘For a Fair Deal’. Education is a key aspect of the manifesto, described as the ‘best investment’ in the potential of children and the country’s future. The Liberal Democrats want every child to get the support and attention they need at school so that they leave with the skills, confidence and resilience to be happy and successful.

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Changes to the state of arts education in schools is mentioned in three points:

  • Establish a standing commission to broaden curricula by drawing on best practice and ensuring children learn core skills including critical thinking, verbal reasoning and creativity. 
  • Include arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate and give power to Ofsted to monitor the curriculum so that schools continue to provide a rich curriculum including subjects like art, music or drama. 
  • Introducing a free entitlement for disadvantaged children to access extracurricular activities such as art, music or drama. 
  • Creating a teacher workforce strategy which ensures students are taught by a specialist teacher in their subject area. 


We very much welcome the recognition of the value of Expressive Arts subjects in the Lib Dem manifesto, although we don’t think that including arts subjects in the EBacc is going far enough, and our manifesto asks call for the EBacc to be scrapped altogether. We value recognition that students should be taught by trained specialists and that the plans for a teacher workforce strategy aim to address this. We also value the focus on disadvantaged and SEND children in the manifesto, as well as on child mental health, and the desire to scrap one-word Ofsted judgements.


A clear priority for the Party is tackling the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis. They will do this by: 

  • Reforming the School Teachers’ Review Body to be independent of government and able to make fair, fully funded pay rises each year. 
  • Ensuring all teacher training posts are paid and introducing high-quality professional development programmes for all teachers, including training on effective parental engagement. 

Disadvantage and SEND

The Party announced several commitments to SEND education and support for disadvantaged students, including: 

  • Creating a new National Body for SEND to fund support for high needs.
  • Introducing a Young People’s Premium, which will extend Pupil Premium funding to disadvantaged people aged 16-18.
  • Creating a register to identify children who are persistently not in school and working to understand the foundational barriers to low attendance.
  • Providing local authorities with responsibility for education powers and resources to act as Strategic Education Authorities, including for places planning, exclusions, administering admissions and SEND functions.
  • Introducing a ‘Tutoring Guarantee’ for every disadvantaged pupil who needs extra support. 
  • Extending free school meals to all children in poverty, with an aspiration to extend them to all primary school children when public finances allow. 

Early Years

The manifesto also includes a focus on improving the access and quality of early years provision for disadvantaged children, including ensuring the new early years staff training programme focuses on identifying and supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND); and committing to closing the attainment gap by providing disadvantaged children aged three to four with an extra five free hours a week and tripling the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 a year. This is positioned as a step towards a universal full-time entitlement for all two to four-year-olds.  


The Party has announced commitments around improving student experiences in education, supported by positive regulation. These include: 

  • Reforming Ofsted inspections and ending single-word judgements. 
  • Introducing a new parental engagement strategy and guidance for schools on providing accessible information for parents. 
  • Posting a dedicated mental health professional to every primary and secondary school, funded by increasing the Digital Services Tax. 

On funding for schools, the Party announced its commitment to: 

  • Increasing school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation every year. 
  • Investing in new buildings and repairs, partially through redirecting capital funding for new free schools. 

Young people

The Party has made several policy commitments to support young people, including: 

  • Adopting a public health approach to the epidemic of youth violence which identifies and treats risk factors, rather than focusing on the symptoms. 
  • Replacing Young Offender Institutions with Secure Schools and Secure Children’s Homes. 
  • Investing in youth services that are genuinely engaging and reach more young people. 
  • Opening walk-in hubs for children and young people in every community. 
  • Improving early access to mental health services by establishing mental health hubs for young people in every community and introducing regular mental health check-ups at key points in people’s lives. 
  • Extending young people’s mental health services up to the age of 25 to end the drop-off experienced by young people transitioning to adult services. 

Skills, Further Education and Careers

The Party has announced its commitment to developing the skills and further education landscapes by investing in research and innovation, skills and training. They plan to: 

  • Invest at least 3% of GDP in research and development by 2030, rising to 3.5% by 2034. 
  • Identify and resolve skills gaps by advancing higher vocational training, including foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas and Higher Apprenticeships. 
  • Review further education funding, including the option of exempting colleges from VAT. 
  • Develop National Colleges as centres of expertise for key sectors, including renewable energy, to deliver high-level vocational skills needed by businesses. 

Specifically for apprenticeships, the Liberal Democrats have stated their intention to reform much of the current structure of apprenticeships provision by: 

  • Replacing the apprenticeship levy with a flexible skills and training levy. 
  • Increasing the participation rate of apprenticeships by guaranteeing apprentices are paid the National Minimum Wage. 

The Party also announced its intention to improve the quality of vocational education including skills for entrepreneurship and self-employment, and to strengthen careers advice and links with employers in schools and colleges. 

Higher Education 

The Liberal Democrats have announced several significant policy commitments for the sector, including for research and innovation, mental health, sector finances and migration. These include: 

  • Reinstating maintenance grants for disadvantaged students immediately to remove barriers to entering higher education. 
  • Reviewing higher education finance in the next Parliament to identify possible reforms to the existing finance system. 
  • Creating a statutory duty of care for all students in HE and introducing a mandatory Student Mental Health Charter, requiring universities to make mental health services accessible to all students. 
  • Ensuring all universities work to support disadvantaged students in having access to higher education by prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and being transparent about their selection criteria.