Education Policy Roundup

Graihagh Crawshaw-Sadler, Now Teach CEO, reflects on the education policies in the 2024 manifesto commitments from the three main parties.

4 mins

6/12/2024 1:37:22 PM
Blog Education Policy Roundup

The manifestos are out and, as expected, the education policies are as wide-ranging as the sector itself – from Early Years provision to funding for cutting-edge university research.

So what’s being proposed in this campaign and what has stood out to us here at Now Teach?

Our mission

Now Teach’s charitable mission is to see a world where children benefit because talented people, who’ve already had successful careers, become teachers and bring their skills and experiences to the schools that need them most.

I wanted to summarise the policies that the main parties are proposing for this election, focusing on those that directly relate to our mission: teacher recruitment; teacher retention; the role of careers in schools; and life-long learning services that enable people to change career.

We’ve also provided a compressed version of all the policies below.

Initial reactions

It’s clear that the three main parties understand there is a recruitment and retention crisis – it would be hard to ignore the desperate need that schools have to find and keep brilliant teachers.

They all commit to more or less specific policies centred on the need to improve incentives, the shortage of STEM teachers and the amount classroom hours being covered by non specialist teachers. All important – and the devil will be  in the detail and how that detail works in the context of system complexity.  

On teacher training itself, Labour alone mentions it, committing to reviewing the Early Career Framework (ECF) for new teachers. It’s an interestingly specific proposal that may have its roots in complaints that the ECF can add significant workload to new teachers and their mentors. I think it’s sensible to re-examine this with workload a key issue, but I hope we maintain the ECF’s role in developing teaching expertise and retaining teachers for the long term.

Improving careers advice is mentioned by Labour and the Liberal Democrats – with Labour committing to work experience for all young people, and the Liberal Democrats to strengthening links between schools and workplaces.

Lifelong learning – an area that is central to Now Teach’s wider mission – is mentioned by Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. There are commitments to workforce skills strategy in Labour’s manifesto, but nothing as specific as the funding opportunities for re-training by the other two parties.

The remaining policies are wide-ranging as you would expect. If I had to pick the ones that stood out for me, I found it particularly heartening to see pledges for mental health support in every school from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, as well as a shared understanding from all three parties that SEND provision in both mainstream and special schools needs to be improved.

These pupil-centred policies would increase much-needed specialist provision to better support classroom teachers in their day-to-day work.

We have listed the policies below in the order the manifestoes have been published, and divided the summary into two sections.

The first section focus on the policies that directly relate to our mission, with the second section summarising the other wider education policies.

1. Policies on teacher recruitment; teacher retention; careers in schools; and life-long learning services that enable people to change career.

Liberal Democrat

  •  Create new Lifelong Skills Grants, giving all adults £5,000 to spend on education and training
  • Tackle the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention by:
    • Ensure that every secondary school child is taught by a specialist teacher in their subject.
    • Reforming the School Teachers’ Review Body.
    • Funding teacher training properly so that all trainee posts in school are paid.
    • Introducing a clear and properly funded programme of high-quality professional development for all teachers
  • Strengthen careers advice and links with employers in schools and colleges.


  • Attract more talented teachers by expanding our recruitment and retention premium and reducing workload. From this September, new teachers in priority areas and key STEM and technical subjects will receive bonuses of up to £30,000 tax-free over five years.
  • Deliver the Lifelong Learning Entitlement, giving adults 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. We will also continue to expand our adult skills programmes, such as Skills Bootcamps which meet skills shortages.


  • Recruit an additional 6,500 new expert teachers and get more teachers into shortage subjects, support areas that face recruitment challenges, and tackle retention issues.
  • Review the way teacher training bursaries are allocated and the structure of retention payments.
  • Update the Early Career Framework and ensure any new teacher entering the classroom has or is working towards Qualified Teacher Status.
  • We will also guarantee two weeks’ worth of work experience for every young person, and improve careers advice in schools and colleges.

2. Wider education policies

Liberal Democrat

  • Put a mental health professional in every primary and secondary school
  • Increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation every year
  • Introduce a ‘Tutoring Guarantee’ for every disadvantaged pupil who needs extra support.
  • Give disadvantaged children aged three and four an extra five free hours a week and tripling the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 a year.
  • Reinstate university maintenance grants for disadvantaged students
  •  Establish a standing commission to build a long-term consensus to broaden the curriculum and make qualifications at 16 and 18 fit for the 21st century.
  • Improve the quality of vocational education
  • 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.
  • Expand provision of extracurricular activities, starting with new free entitlement for disadvantaged children.
  • Reform Ofsted inspections and end single-word judgements.
  • Implement a new parental engagement strategy.
  • Tackle persistent absence by setting up a register of children who are not in school.
  • Tackle the crisis in special educational needs provision, and help to end the postcode lottery in provision, by:
    • Giving local authorities extra funding
    • Establishing a new National Body for SEND to fund support for children with very high needs.
  • Give local authorities with responsibility for education the powers and resources to act as Strategic Education Authorities
  • Redirect capital funding for unnecessary new free schools to help clear the backlog of school repairs.
  • Tackle bullying in schools by promoting pastoral leadership in schools
  • When the public finances allow, give disadvantaged two-year-olds an extra five free hours of early years education a week
  • Introduce a Young People’s Premium, extending Pupil Premium to disadvantaged young people aged 16-18.
  • Review further education funding
  • Support the education of children in care
  • Safeguard the future of our world-leading universities and the wellbeing of every student by:
    • Supporting science, research and innovation in universities
    • Giving higher education institutions a statutory duty of care for their students.
    • Introducing a statutory Student Mental Health Charter
    • Returning to the Erasmus Plus programme
    • Establishing a review of higher education finance
    • Reporting international student flows separately to estimates of long-term migration.
    • Ensuring that all universities work to widen participation by disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.


  • Protecting day-to-day schools spending in real terms per pupil.
  • Banning the use of mobile phones during the school day
  • We will mandate two hours of PE every week in primary and secondary schools, supported by extending the PE and Sport Premium to secondary schools.
  • We will increase funding for School Games Organisers to get more competitive sport into and between schools and work with sporting bodies to create more UK-wide school competitions like National Finals, to identify the best sporting talents.
  • Introduce the Advanced British Standard, a new approach to 16-19 education which will build on the best of A Levels and T Levels.
  • Legislate to create a register of children not in school.
  • Give parents have a right to see what their child is being taught in school, especially on sensitive matters like relationships and sex education.
  • We will expand strong academy trusts.
  • Delivering 60,000 more SEND school places and a further 15 new free schools for children with special educational needs.
  • Create 100,000 more apprenticeships in England every year by the end of next Parliament
  • We will reinvent National Service for this century
  • Changing the law to close university courses in England with the worst outcomes for their student.


  • End the VAT exemption and business rates relief for private schools to invest in our state schools.
  • Introduce a new Teacher Training Entitlement to ensure teachers stay up to date on best practice with continuing professional development.
  • Reinstate the School Support Staff Negotiating Body.
  • Improve the quality of maths teaching across nurseries and primary schools.
  • Fund evidence-based early-language interventions in primary schools, so that every child can find their voice.
  • Create a new Excellence in Leadership Programme.
  • Introduce new Regional Improvement Teams, to enhance school-to-school support, and spread best practice.
  • Replace a single headline Ofsted grade with a new report card system.
  • Bring Multi-Academy Trusts into the inspection system and introduce a new annual review of safeguarding, attendance, and off-rolling.
  • Launch an expert-led review of curriculum and assessment, working with school staff, parents and employers.
  • Take a community-wide approach to SEND, improving inclusivity and expertise in mainstream schools, as well as ensuring special schools cater to those with the most complex needs.
  • Fund free breakfast clubs in every primary school, accessible to all children.
  • Limit the number of branded items of uniform and PE kit that schools can require.
  • Provide access to specialist mental health professionals in every school
  • Create Young Futures Hubs to make sure every community has an open-access hub for children and young people with drop-in mental health support.