General Election 2024: what are the main parties promising on education?

Now all the main parties in England have published their manifestos, here’s our summary for parents of their main policies on education and schools

Education is going to be an important issue in the election campaign. Voters, particularly those who are parents, are concerned about the state of education. Polling by YouGov, suggested that nearly half of parents are dissatisfied with government funding for staffing and academic support in schools. 

A recent poll by the Public First think tank gives some clues to voters' attitudes to proposed education policies. The researchers showed policy commitments from Labour and the Conservatives and asked members of the public to choose which policies they liked most and least, without telling them which party had suggested them. The poll showed that the most popular policies were Labour’s pledge to recruit 6,500 more teachers and Conservative plans to increase the number of apprenticeships. 

Note: we've added the parties in alphabetical order. 

The Conservative Party manifesto pledges on education

The Conservatives are promising to protect school spending, encourage the banning of mobile phones in schools and reform post 16 qualifications. Gillian Keegan is the current Education Secretary. 

Their specific policies include:

  • Introducing the Advanced British Standard (ABS) as a new post 16 qualification to replace 'A' Levels and 'T' Levels. This qualification, championed by Rishi Sunak, would mean young people  spending  more time in the classroom and studying a wider range of subjects, including Maths and English, up to 18.
  • Requiring schools to follow guidance on banning the use of mobile phones during the school day and providing some funding to help them do so. 
  • Increasing the number of strong academy trusts and lifting the 50% admissions cap on faith schools.
  • Increasing the number of teachers by expanding the teacher recruitment and retention premium and reducing workload. Offering STEM subjects teachers bonuses of up to £30,000 over 5 years. 
  • Delivering 60,000 more school places and 15 new free schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 
  • Working to improve school attendance including through the provision of mental health support and creating a register of children not in school. 
  • Making it mandatory for schools to offer 2hrs of PE a week for every pupil at primary and secondary level. Providing funding and support for competitive sport in school. 
  • Banning protests outside of schools and making sure that teachers are protected from accusations of blasphemy.
  • Expanding the coverage of mental health support teams to all schools. 

The Green Party manifesto pledges on education

The Green Party are proposing a large increase in spending on education of almost £14 billion, funded by major changes to the tax system including a wealth tax and by additional borrowing. They also aim to scrap formal testing, abolish Ofsted and put academies under council control. Vix Lowthion is the Green’s Policy Spokesperson for Lifelong Education.

Their specific pledges include:

  • Increasing school funding by £8 billion, including £2 billion to improve teachers’ pay.
  • Abolishing Ofsted and formal testing at primary schools.
  • Supporting pupil health by providing a trained counsellor in every school and restoring the role of school nurses. 
  • Providing all children with free nutritious school meals based on local, organic and sustainable produce.
  •  Free breakfast clubs for all primary school children. 
  • Removing charitable status and the VAT tax exemption from private schools. 
  • Investing £5 billion into special needs and disability (SEND) funding within mainstream schools. 
  • Increasing spending to tackle the RAAC concrete scandal, improve school buildings and insulate them to higher standards. 
  • Transferring academies and free schools to local authority control. 

The Labour Party manifesto pledges on education

The Labour party are planning to increase the number of specialist teachers, modernise the curriculum, provide more mental health support and careers advice, reform Ofsted and open new school nurseries. They aim to fund these changes with the money they would raise from removing the VAT and business tax exemption on private schools. Bridget Phillipson is the current shadow education secretary. 

Their pledges on education include: 

  • Recruiting 6,500 teachers in shortage subjects such as maths, physics and computer science. Tackling teacher retention issues by increasing support, reducing workload and improving teacher training. 
  • Removing the VAT and business rates exemptions currently granted to private schools. This will result in a potential increase of up to 20% in private school fees depending on how much of the costs schools pass on to parents. 
  • Creating 100,000 nursery places by converting primary school classrooms into nurseries.
  • Providing free breakfast clubs for every primary school child.
  • Providing access to specialist mental health professionals in school for every child to tackle problems before they escalate. 
  • Replacing single Ofsted grades with a new report card system to give parents more information about how schools are performing. 
  • Taking a community wide approach to improve SEND provision in mainstream and specialist schools. 
  • Launching a review of curriculum and assessment to deliver a broad, inclusive and innovative education. 
  • Protecting PE time and expanding pupils’ access to sport as well as launching a national music education network to support the teaching of music in schools.
  • Guaranteeing two weeks of work experience to every pupil and improving the provision of careers advice. 

The Liberal Democrat Party manifesto pledges on education

The Liberal Democrat manifesto promises to increase school funding above inflation, reform Ofsted, spend more on school buildings, extend free school meals and the pupil premium and raise the profile of arts subjects. Munira Wilson is the Liberal Democrat’s spokesperson for Education.

Their proposed policies include: 

  • Increasing school funding per pupil above the rate of inflation each year and investing in school buildings.
  • Reforming the teachers’ pay review body to improve teachers' pay and ensure that any recommended pay rises are fully funded.
  • Providing free school meals for all children in poverty with a long term ambition of providing them to all children. 
  • Including arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate and giving power to Ofsted to monitor schools continuing provision of art, music and drama. 
  • Reforming Ofsted and ending single work judgements to give a more accurate picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each school. 
  • Putting a dedicated mental health professional in every school. 
  • Increasing the number of specialist teachers.
  • Expanding extracurricular activities, such as sport, music, debating, drama and coding and ensuring greater access to these subjects for disadvantaged children. 
  • Introducing a new ‘Young People’s Premium’ extending pupil premium funding to disadvantaged young people aged 16-18.
  • Broadening the curriculum and making qualifications at 16 and 18 more fit for the 21st Century. 


There are some common themes in all of the manifestos. It’s good to see that all parties have recognised issues with pupil funding, the need for reform of the curriculum, the rise in mental health issues, the state of school buildings and the need to improve provision for children with SEND. However, as you’d expect, there are considerable differences in how each of the parties would tackle these issues.