Controversial Tory education measures leaked

Policy proposals for schools in England designed to be rolled out over the coming weeks have been leaked, causing controversy of Boris Johnson’s plans.

Seen by the Guardian, the confidential briefing paper outlines a number controversial education measures, including billions of pounds in new funding, a crackdown on student behaviour and a further wave of free schools.

The £3.5 billion funding announcement will be welcomed, as will a possible pay rise due to a planned increase to teachers’ basic pay. However, the package of disciplinary measures have been berated, after it was revealed that the government would encourage a renewed emphasis on exclusions and allowing teachers to use ‘reasonable force’ to improve behaviour.

The main proposals in the package include: increasing pay for teachers, with starting salaries rising to £30,000 by 2022; encouraging school leaders to confiscate or ban mobile phones; backing headteachers to exclude pupils, with new guidance on behaviour; offering academy trusts £24,000 incentives to take over struggling schools; opening a new wave of free schools, including alternative provision schools for excluded children; removing exemptions from regular inspection for schools rated as Outstanding by Ofsted; and a fresh push to convert local authority maintained schools to academy status.

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, commented: “Time after time Boris Johnson has backed Tory cuts to school budgets that created the crisis in our classrooms, while slashing taxes for the richest. Johnson shows no sign of taking the action needed to undo that damage, and isn’t even proposing to reverse the Conservatives’ cuts to schools since 2010.

“It is concerning that this leaked document shows senior Tories casting doubt on the value of teaching assistants and suggesting that more cuts are on the way, despite the vital work they do, such as supporting children with special education needs. The next Labour government will fully reverse Tory cuts to our schools, increasing per pupil funding in real terms and offering a real terms pay rise to both teachers and support staff.”