We’ve taken a look at the manifestos recently released by the three key parties, and have produced the table below comparing their commitments on different aspects of education and skills. It’s worth noting that the Conservative manifesto is a brief 64 pages, compared to the Liberal Democrats’ 98 pages and Labour’s 107, so there’s not quite as much detail on some topics.
Labour’s flagship policy is the commitment to providing a free lifelong entitlement to six years of training at levels 4-6, with maintenance grants for disadvantaged learners. They have also stated their intention to create a National Education Service, and to replace Ofsted with a new body.
The Liberal Democrats’ flagship policies are their commitment to investing an extra £1 billion in further education, restoring maintenance grants for the poorest students in higher education, and expanding the apprenticeship levy into a wider ‘Skills and Training levy’.
The Conservatives’ flagship policy is their announced £2 billion of investment to upgrade FE colleges, the creation of a £3bn National Skills Fund, and their commitment to creating 20 Institutes of Technology.
Key differences and commonalities
The Labour offer on education is more comprehensive and universal, whereas the Conservatives’ offer is more targeted at specific groups.
The Conservatives want to maintain the current apprenticeship levy with improved working of the levy, trying to better link it to infrastructure projects. Both the Lib Dems and Labour are more open to expanding the scope of the apprenticeship levy, and further harnessing it to a social mobility and inclusion agenda.
Both Lib Dems and Labour are committed to reforming Ofsted.
We’re delighted to see all parties offering a commitment to engaging the hardest to reach, as we’ve called for in our Spotlight Series, including recommendations for a social mobility fund, bursaries for apprentices, and targeted support for engaging SMEs. We look forward to continuing to raise these issues with politicians and policymakers, and hope to see further progress made by the new Parliament in 2020.