The Liberal Democrats have published their manifesto for the 2017 general election, with pledges to inject £7 billion into schools and rule out any new grammars.
The document claims the Conservatives "want to take us back 50 years to an outdated system of grammar schools and secondary moderns, ignoring all the research and expert advice that show it will damage the life chances of so many children".
It says education is "too often distorted by schools' need to focus on the next set of league tables and the next inspection".
"Teachers deserve to be treated as professionals and given the flexibility and support to apply their expertise," it adds.
The manifesto contains financial commitments to:
- Increase spending on schools by almost £7 billion over the next five years to protect per-pupil funding in real terms and ensure that no school loses out under the national funding formula
- Triple the early years pupil premium to £1,000
- End the 1 per cent cap on teachers' pay rises
- Extend free school meals to all children in primary education
It also commits to:
- Guarantee that all teachers in state-funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards qualified teacher status from January 2019
- Establish an independent Education Standards Authority to "pilot, phase
in and resource future policy changes in consultation with professionals
- Support the establishment of a new, independent Foundation for
Leadership in Education, working under the umbrella of the Chartered College of Teaching, "to promote high-quality, evidence-based leadership and help the best leaders into the most challenging schools"
- Give local authorities "clear responsibility for local school places planning and repeal the rule that all new state-funded schools must be free schools or academies"
- Scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools and devolve all capital funding for new school spaces to local authorities
- Introduce a new "curriculum entitlement" for all state-funded pupils to be taught PSHE, financial literacy, first aid and mental health education, as part of a "slimmed down core national curriculum"
The manifesto also says the curriculum will be the responsibility of the new Educational Standards Authority
which would be responsible for piloting and phasing in any changes.
It says promoting wellbeing should be a school's statutory duty and part of the Ofsted inspection framework. It proposes a new online "Family University" which would "provide every family with advice and guidance for learning and parenting at home".