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Press Cycle 2 - Conservative Education Speech
#1
What do you make of the new Tory education agenda?

Deadline is 23:59 on the 31st December 2019 (Happy New Year!)
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#2
I’ll give James Manning and Elaine Ashbury some credit, they’ve managed to find a balance I thought impossible by both centralising and privatising our education system in one swoop.

I’d long suspected Ashbury had spent far too much time in Westminster to be someone able to provide a voice on the world stage and policy within Britain for the whole of the country – but this policy speech is the icing on the cake. The doublespeak of talking of a ‘bottom up’ approach while communities across the country are forced by politicians in Whitehall to let big business take over their school is laughable. Our kids need practical, local and affordable solutions to make sure they get the best education they can. The Conservatives have failed all three of those tests.
Arthur Sweeney MP for Bootle (2001-Present).
                           Prime Minister (2007-Present).
Media Unknown/Backbench Favourite/Campaign Organiser.
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#3
Firstly, on the new Tory Education announcements, Labour has committed to raising the school leaving age to 18 in our own manifesto. It's the core plank in our policy. The Tories haven't offered anything new here - they've just u-turned on this.

The Conservatives are also promising bottom up reform led by the National Education System. Which will most likely be based in Whitehall, so this is double speak. This is naturally central diktat - not bottom up localism.

Additionally, ‘Free schools' coming from businesses. This is privatisation of our school system, where businesses are able to take over schools and it should be called out for what it is.

Finally, the Tories are also promising £2 billion in extra spending, on top of a complete top down reorganisation of our education system which will naturally add to the fee. They need to be able to outline where that's coming from and be more transparent about how much the reorganisation could cost the taxpayer.

The Tories clearly haven’t thought through this policy. They are unorganised and are not a government in waiting. They cannot be trusted with education, NHS or just about anything else.
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#4
London - Deputy Conservative Leader David Robertson discussed the Conservative Party's latest policy announcement on education, specifically Tory plans to allow all maintained schools to become academies. According to Robertson, such legislation is not only about empowering teachers, parents, and students, it is evidence-based.

"Data shows GCSE results are improving twice as fast in academies as in ordinary state schools. That is what happens when you cut the red tape and simply let teachers teach," said Robertson. "By allowing all maintained schools to convert to academies, we are giving every child the same opportunity that pupils in current academies enjoy."

Robertson went on to explain, "For too long now, education policy has been driven not by teachers, pupils, or parents, but by Whitehall. There is too much reliance on bureaucracy, red-tape, and circulars telling teachers how to teach. Academies change this. What we have seen is that by trusting our education professionals, academies deliver better outcomes for students. The only downside currently is that academies are limited and not available to every family. This means some children have opportunities to succeed that others do not. It is time to end the postcode lottery, and we Conservatives will do that by enabling all maintained schools to become academies as part of our Opportunity Agenda."

Robertson also praised Conservative plans to introduce "free schools", non-profit academies set up by parents, teachers, charities, and businesses. Speaking on free schools, Robertson stated, "The free school programme will allow education professionals to partner with parents and industry to develop centres of learning that prepare children to compete in the more globalised and technology-dependent 21st Century. Free schools are one way that our nation can unlock innovation and allow new ways of learning that will offer alternatives to the traditional approach to education."

-end-


(moved @ Mac's request)

London - David Robertson, Shadow Home Secretary and Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, praised his party's Opportunity Agenda and plans for the "National Education Service", a cradle to grave education initiative. Key reforms include extending the school leaving age to 18 and establishing a new apprenticeship scheme.

"Education plays such a powerful determining factor in the opportunities one has in life," commented Robertson. "Yet our current approach is not working for all pupils. Too many children are falling through the cracks, too many children are being left behind. More spending is not an automatic fix, neither is more regulation and red-tape from Whitehall. Instead, we need an education strategy that provides opportunity and prepares our pupils to compete and succeed in a globalised world. Our proposals for the National Education Service will do just that."

Robertson went on, "It is undisputed that more education opportunities equal better outcomes for pupils. While education until the age of 16 made sense when there were abundant amounts of unskilled work needed, that system no longer works in the 21st Century. Extending the school leaving age to 18 will better prepare all students so that they can obtain good jobs with decent wages and career possibilities."

In addition to the extension of school leaving age, the Conservatives are also proposing a higher education apprenticeship scheme for 16 to 18 year olds. Commenting on the scheme, Robertson said, "Extending school for 16 to 18 years is only a piece of the pie. Another component is giving pupils education and training in fields they are actually interested in. Our apprenticeship programme will partner with industry leaders and firms in high demand fields to pass on technical skills and knowledge to a new generation of workers. While learning new abilities and getting experience, apprentices will be earning pay. It is a win-win situation for apprentices, British firms, and society at large."

Robertson finished his remarks, "As Conservatives we do not believe our pupils, families, and society are well served by an ever-expansive state dictating every decision in your life. Instead, we are asking Britons to join with us in our belief that schools are better when we trust teachers, empower parents, and give new opportunities to students."

--end--

(moved @ Mac's request)
David A. Robertson
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
Deputy Leader for Conservatives|Shadow SOS - Home Dept
Campaign Guru, Media Darling, Maverick
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#5
Labour do like to use big words these days. Unfortunately, these big words like privatisation do not apply to this policy or, indeed, many of the policies we are pushing. Our opportunity agenda is a bottom-up one. Nobody will be forced to convert to Academy status, just like nobody will be forced, like in the current system, to retain maintained status. Our non-profit free schools will empower communities to innovate in education. With our agenda, every community will get the school they choose - that's the power of our side-by-side society.
the Rt Hon. Emily Greenwood MP

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (2019-)

MP for Barrow & Furness (2010-)
Secretary of State for Education (2019-)
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (2019-)

Shadow SoS for Public Services (2019)


Traits: Media Darling, Campaigning Guru, Constituency Appeal, Finite Resources
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#6
Nobody had mentioned that a 'side-by-side' approach to education would be so expensive. The Tories are promising over £2 billion to hand out lump sums of cash to every UK adult at various ages and are promising a huge reorganisation of schools on top of that, the cost of which remains unknown.

For all the fuss the Tories kicked up over PFI, for which the value-for-money of PFI schemes is often disputed, you'd think they'd put their money where their mouth is and cost up their policies. But in a single speech we have it confirmed that there'll be over £2 billion pounds worth of uncosted spending. As other members of the Opposition start to line up to deliver policy, it's going to become clear the Tories will continue to add to the debt pile to treat public services as their ideological guinea pigs: in 2005 we saw the Conservatives present a £15 billion black hole in their spending plans. It seems they're determined to widen that further.
Arthur Sweeney MP for Bootle (2001-Present).
                           Prime Minister (2007-Present).
Media Unknown/Backbench Favourite/Campaign Organiser.
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#7
When the Tories are talking about businesses setting up "free schools" by businesses is the very definition of privatisation. The Leader of the Opposition would like us to believe that this policy won't create a Viscount Rothemere School for Boys or the McDonald's Academy for the Gifted. It's not about empowering communities. It's about giving private businesses ownership over our children's future. The Conservatives should pee on the public and tell them it's raining.
Labour MP for Tottenham
Media Darling/Backbench Favourite/Finite Resources
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#8
The government would like to make out a huge gulf of difference between the existing Academies system and our free schools policy. In truth, it is not very different from what the government is already doing with Academies: bringing in private expertise to bring further innovation to our school system where needed. Where Academies were a response to a need to improve standards, our free schools will serve to fulfill demands for innovative, new-style education in the communities they serve. That is the role these schools play in the 21st-century education offered through the power of the side-by-side-society. Under a Conservative Government, you can be safe that the only bottom line that matters will be the education of your children. There is no hidden profit motive, no catch.

The great challenge in education is the great diversity of young people it needs to serve. Everyone has a different set of talents which can be served by a different type of education. Our plan to revalue vocational education through the new T-level and City Technological Colleges will help raise the next generation of craftsmen and professionals. At the same time, our ambitious plan for Academy conversion and free schools will make the school system more diverse than ever, giving parents and pupils ample choice between alternatives run and populated by the professionals most qualified to do so. Our current system delivers what is best for most of our pupils, most of the time. I want our school system to offer the best for all of our pupils, all of the time.
the Rt Hon. Emily Greenwood MP

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (2019-)

MP for Barrow & Furness (2010-)
Secretary of State for Education (2019-)
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (2019-)

Shadow SoS for Public Services (2019)


Traits: Media Darling, Campaigning Guru, Constituency Appeal, Finite Resources
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#9
Not only is the Conservative Lifelong Learning Fund a poor way to spend taxpayers money, but it will cost more than the Conservatives claim. The true cost of their Fund could be up to £6 billion more than they claim.

Giving 25 year olds, 40 year olds, and 50 year olds money for retraining would have meant over 2.4 million people accessing the Fund. But only £2 billion would be put in annually. On the current Conservative plans, this would amount to just £833 per individual. This is a fifth of the amount a 25-year old would receive, and just over a quarter of what a 40-year old and a 50-year old would expect to receive.

It’s clear that either the Fund would run dry in a matter of months, denying millions access to support for lifelong learning or the Treasury will stump up more cash for the fund. We predict that the additional amount required would equal £6 billion or what the government currently spends on further education for 16 to 18 year-olds. An untried and untested model would waste taxpayers money, and fail to create the high skilled workforce of the future.

I call on the Conservative Party needs to be truthful about the true cost of their wasteful, risking spending plans and admit that their lifelong learning fund will actually cost £8 billion a year.
Amelia Lockhart
Labour
MP for Hull North (2001 - )
Secretary of State for Economic Security and Local Growth (2020 - )

Traits: media darling, backbench favourite, finite resources 
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#10
The Conservative proposal for 'free schools' is the wrong approach, and I think that no matter how much James Manning dresses his speech up with rhetoric about social justice and centrism, it betrays that his party's instincts are still firmly ensconced in the same old Tory impulses of the past: privatisation of essential services in all but name, preserving inequalities between the haves and have nots, a disappointingly paternalistic and top-down approach to the problems facing our society. My fear is that this will lead to a system where businesses, rich and successful organisations, and those already with privilege - those parents who can already afford all the best tutoring and academic opportunities for their children - will be the only ones able to create free schools. This will divert critical time and money away from existing schools, exacerbate inequalities in educational attainment, and lead to state schools being left in the dust. We should be focused on improving standards at all schools and lifting up prospects and opportunities for all students. We should not, as the Conservatives propose, be making a new tier of school instead.

While it is right to draw attention to the Labour government's failure to prepare our educational system adequately for the future of work and the failures of both parties to provide a sustainable framework for future skills and apprenticeships, the Conservative approach is insufficient. Not only is it poorly costed, but I think a sustainable skills proposal will be more flexible, fiscally sustainable and take into account the needs and views of both worker and employer - all things the Conservative approach is not. This need for a smart middle way is something only the Liberal Democrats are currently recognising.
Grant Smith
Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West (2005-present)

Media Unknown, Constituency Appeal, Campaign Organiser, Fundraiser Extraordinaire 
Previously: Sir Lachlan Domnhall Coinneach Duncan MacMahon; Graham Adiputera; I think I played some dull Labour bloke at one point
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