Too many children are still leaving school without the knowledge and skills to be successful. Finding a good school is a struggle, lessons don't always stretch the brightest or support those who need more help, and classes are often too big for teachers to control.
Every child is different, so schools need to be free to teach children in different ways and get the very best from them. Liberal Democrats want every child to get an excellent education because it is the best way to get on in life, get a good job, and learn about the world.
We will aim to cut class sizes, set teachers free to spend more time in the classroom and raise standards in every school with more money for things like one to one tuition and classes in the evenings.
In Government we are delivering on our commitment for a fully funded pupil premium, through which we will spend an extra £7bn on giving the poorest children a better start in life.
Liberal Democrat party policy remains to phase out tuition fees, but in the circumstances of the coalition that was a policy we could not deliver.
We have used our position in the coalition to do everything possible to make the new system of higher education funding as fair as possible. We have helped produce a genuinely fair and progressive system that will help people from poorer backgrounds go on to higher education.
No one has to pay up front, including part-time students, and graduates make monthly payments based on their earnings and only after they are earning £21k (up from £15k today). These monthly payments will be lower than they are today in every case.
The coalition agreement says:
UNIVERSITIES AND FURTHER EDUCATION
The Government believes that our universities are essential for building a strong and innovative economy. We will take action to create more college and university places, as well as help to foster stronger links between universities, colleges and industries.
We will seek ways to support the creation of apprenticeships, internships, work pairings, and college and workplace training places as part of our wider programme to get Britain working.
We will set colleges free from direct state control and abolish many of the further education quangos. Public funding should be fair and follow the choices of students.
We will await Lord Browne's final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals against the need to:
- increase social mobility;
- take into account the impact on student debt;
- ensure a properly funded university sector;
- improve the quality of teaching;
- advance scholarship; and
- attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
If the response of the Government to Lord Browne's report is one that Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote.
We will review support for part-time students in terms of loans and fees.
We will publish more information about the costs, graduate earnings and student satisfaction of different university courses.
We will ensure that public funding mechanisms for university research safeguard its academic integrity.