What do the election results mean for teachers and schools?
Though the recent election was far from conclusive, and we’re still not 100% sure who’ll be Prime Minister this time next week, experts are already beginning to look at what the result could mean for education. Prior to the vote, the Tory government had set out clear goals on bringing back grammar schools and cutting free school meals for children from poorer families. However, the shock result could well change the Conservatives’ plans, forcing them to reassess their policies on education and changing the way schools are funded in the coming years.
Theresa May announced plans to reintroduce grammar schools almost as soon as she became PM. Though this policy seemed to be very close to her heart, it wasn’t universally popular and many MPs, even within her own party, weren’t convinced by the proposals.
The hung parliament result could well put an end to the plans to bring grammar schools back altogether. Though the DUP are pro-grammar schools, there are at least 15 Tory MPs who are opposed to the plans. Since Theresa May lost her majority in the House of Commons, she’d find it almost impossible to push through a vote on grammar schools, making the proposals look increasingly unlikely to happen.
The number of Free Schools across the UK has been steadily increasing in recent years. The Government had planned to open 100 new Free Schools a year in order to boost the number of places available. However, the policy isn’t popular with all MPs with many seeing Free Schools as a drain on public resources. Though it’s likely more Free Schools will open in the coming 12 months, the rate at which they’re launched could well be reduced.
Had the Conservatives won outright, they planned to cut free school lunches for primary school pupils. According The Guardian, this would have hit 900,000 children from the poorest families in the UK. However, this policy has also now been thrown into doubt, with the Prime Minister unlikely to have the support in Parliament to see it through.
One issue that the next Government will have to face head on is school funding. Thanks to the large number of cuts that have taken place over the past few years, schools in the UK are now chronically underfunded with The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee warning the Government that there is a real risk of a decline in standards if the problem isn’t addressed.
With negotiations between the Conservatives and the DUP still on going, it’s hard to say how education policy will look in the coming years. But with education one of the most important issues in politics, it’s certain they’ll be some new policies announced soon.