Meet the new boss

After the 2015 election I published this post setting out the education policies contained in the 2015 Conservative Party Manifesto. I feel justified in publishing early this year as the result is pretty much a foregone conclusion. These are the education policies were are going to get.

In the 2015 manifesto there were, conveniently for my title, 39 policies. This included those aimed more generally at children and also those aimed at FE rather than schools. I have excluded these this time which reduces the original list of 39 down to 33. Against these policies I have set those contained in the 2017 manifesto for comparison. The full table follows the brief commentary below.

As you can see, there are some distinct differences in emphasis. Some areas the government would probably try to claim they already delivered on but I do think there are some interesting omissions from the 2017 document that were in the 2015 one:

  • Less specificity on curriculum – the long division, complex maths and reading expectations has gone. The government would obviously claim they have been subsumed into the curriculum but then why have them in 2015 and why continue with just the times-table requirement?
  • Should Teach First be worried?
  • UTCs are no longer flavour of the month.
  • There is less bravado about funding increases – its clear they understand people really don’t believe or trust them on this issue.
  • There is no timeline to full academisation, nor any hint at a change to the overall regulatory regime (LSa, EFA, RSCs, Ofsted, DfE etc). I guess that comes under the heading of “to hard” and requires a strategic planning capability the government appears to lack.

There are two standout changes.

The first is dropping the “We will pay good teachers more” line. This has clearly not happened and anyone looking at the funding issues can see that it will not happen. The teaching profession is about to be come less attractive, by design.

The second, and possibly the most important is the dropping of the “We will not allow state schools to make a profit” pledge. I think this should worry people a lot. Other policies require greater links with Universities and with independent schools. I suggest that the dropping of this pledge is to facilitate as loose a control over the nature of these (and other) links and who is providing them. Or it could just mean they want to let private providers open state funded schools and take a profit from them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case.

In terms of other things added, there is more detail around the types of new schools we can expect to see. This was to be expected given Nick Timothys time at the NSN. There are two other key changes.

The first, which is no surprise, is the commitment to remove the bar on selection. This isn’t accompanied by any numbers, but it was accompanied by a half-hearted attempt at evidence for this which turned out to be a false interpretation of statistics.

The second is the payments holiday proposed on student loan repayments whilst an individual remains a teacher. As this doesn’t seem to be accompanied by any forgiveness of the loan capital (or, possibly, the interest) in an age of multiple careers this is not the biggie it was assumed to be.

And that, apart from the hint of the reintroduction of KS3 SATs, is that.

Here’s the full table for your delight and delectation.

2015 2017
We will expect every 11-year-old to know their times tables off by heart. We will expect every 11-year- old to know their times tables off by heart.


We will expect every 11-year-old to be able to perform long division and complex multiplication
They should be able to read a book and write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar
If children do not reach the required standards in their exams at the end of primary school, they will resit them at the start of secondary school, to make sure no pupil is left behind To maintain progress as children go through secondary school, we will improve schools’ accountability at key stage 3.


We will require secondary school pupils to take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography. We will expect 75 per cent of pupils to have been entered for the EBacc combination of GCSEs by the end of the next parliament, with 90 per cent of pupils studying this combination of academic GCSEs by 2025.
Ofsted will be unable to award its highest ratings to schools that refuse to teach these core subjects We will ensure all children have access to an academic, knowledge-rich curriculum.
We will introduce a curriculum fund to encourage Britain’s leading cultural and scientific institutions, like the British Museum and others to help develop knowledge-rich materials for our schools, and we will ensure that assessments at the end of primary school draw from a rich knowledge base, and reduce teaching to the test.
We will invest at least £7 billion over the next Parliament to provide good school places. We will increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022, representing more than a real terms increase for every year of the parliament.
And we will let our best headteachers take control of failing primary schools, by expanding the National Leaders of Education programme.
We will turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy, and deliver free schools if parents in your area want them
We will continue to expand academies, free schools, studio schools and University Technical Colleges.
We will ensure there is a University Technical College within reach of every city.
Over the next Parliament, we will open at least 500 new free schools. So we will continue with our programme of free schools, building at least a hundred new free schools a year.
We will make it a condition for universities hoping to charge maximum tuition fees to become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools.
We will introduce new funding arrangements so we can open a specialist maths school in every major city in England.
We will replace the unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules that prevent the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools, instead requiring new faith schools to prove that parents of other faiths and none would be prepared to send their children to that school.
We will work with the Independent Schools Council to ensure that at least 100 leading independent schools become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools in the state system, keeping open the option of changing the tax status of independent schools if progress is not made.
We will lift the ban on the establishment of selective schools, subject to conditions, such as allowing pupils to join at other ages as well as eleven.
We will conduct a review of school admissions policy. We will be clear at the outset that we will never introduce a mandatory lottery-based school admissions policy.
We will introduce new powers to force coasting schools to accept new leadership. Any school judged by Ofsted to be requiring improvement will be taken over by the best headteachers – backed by expert sponsors or high-performing neighbouring schools – unless it can demonstrate that it has a plan to improve rapidly.
We will continue to allow all good schools to expand, whether they are maintained schools, academies, free schools or grammar schools. We will prohibit councils from creating any new places in schools that have been rated either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted.
We will consider how Ofsted can give parents more information on what their children are being taught.
As the number of pupils increases, so will the amount of money in our schools.
On current pupil number forecasts, there will be a real-terms increase in the schools budget in the next Parliament.
We will continue to provide the pupil premium, protected at current rates, so that schools receive additional money for those from the poorest backgrounds. We will continue to protect the Pupil Premium to support those who need it.


We will support families by providing free meals to all infants. We will stop funding UFISM.


A new Conservative government, schools in England will offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school, while children from low-income families will continue to receive free school lunches throughout their years in primary and secondary education.
And we will make schools funding fairer. We have already increased funding for the 69 least well-funded local authorities in the country, and will make this the baseline for their funding in the next Parliament. We appreciate that it is hard for schools receiving a higher level of funding to make cuts in order to pay for increases elsewhere, so while we will make funding fairer over the course of the parliament, we will make sure that no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula.


We will not allow state schools to make a profit.
We will expect every teacher to be trained not just in how to tackle serious behaviour issues, but also in how to deal with the low level disruption that stops children from learning properly.
We will recruit and keep the best teachers by reducing the time they spend on paperwork We will provide greater support for teachers in the preparation of lessons and marking, including through the use of technology.


We will create a single jobs portal, like NHS Jobs, for schools to advertise vacancies in order to reduce costs and help them and the best teachers.
We will introduce bursaries for the most in-demand subjects. We will continue to provide bursaries to attract top graduates into teaching.


We will pay good teachers more.
To help new teachers remain in the profession, we will offer forgiveness on student loan repayments while they are teaching and bring in dedicated support to help them throughout their careers.
We will further reduce the burden of Ofsted inspections. We will bear down on unnecessary paperwork and the burden of Ofsted inspections.
We will continue to encourage the growth of Teach First.
We will increase the number of teachers able to teach Mandarin in schools in England.
We will support the creation of an independent College of Teaching to promote the highest standards of teaching and school leadership.
We will train an extra 17,500 maths and physics teachers over the next five years.
We will make sure that all students are pushed to achieve their potential and create more opportunities to stretch the most able.
We will continue to tackle all forms of bullying in our schools.
And we will stop children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age verification for access to all sites containing pornographic material and age-rating for all music videos. We will educate today’s young people in the harms of the internet and how best to combat them, introducing comprehensive Relationships and Sex Education in all primary and secondary schools to ensure that children learn about the risks of the internet, including cyberbullying and online grooming.
We will create new ’schools maps’ to help parents choose the school that is right for their child, giving them key information about quality of teaching, attainment and the curriculum of local schools as they choose their school preferences to support their decisions.



3 thoughts on “Meet the new boss

  1. BUT apart from the implied “profit now OK” what also hit me from your useful comparison is the proposal to allow Free Schools to be set up, not only run by a religion but to be allowed to recruit exclusively from that religion.

    I had my schooling decades ago in N. Ireland, and religious segregation in schooling most familiar to me.

    Worked out well there didnt it?

  2. You are clearly right to highlight the lifting of the “with profit” distinction, which cannot but be to the benefit of providers like Bellevue Ltd, who while already profiting (quite legally) from “related third party transactions” with the not for profit Trust they control and which in law, runs the schools, will no doubt welcome an enhanced flexibility. Have a look at my blog post to see what I mean.

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