Lib Dems pledge £7bn for England's school budgets

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The Liberal Democrats will invest an extra £7bn in England’s school budgets, the party’s manifesto reveals.

School budgets and the pupil premium for disadvantaged children would rise to protect them against rising costs.

The party also promises 15 hours of free childcare for all two-year-olds and greater access to flexible working.

However, while it plans to reintroduce maintenance grants for the poorest students, there is no commitment to abolish tuition fees in England.

Instead, the Lib Dems promise a review of higher education finance in the next Parliament “to consider any necessary reforms, in the light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system on access, participation and quality”.

School budgets

The party’s manifesto says schools in England are facing “an unprecedented funding crisis” and pledges to protect per-pupil funding in real terms and introduce a fairer national funding system “so that no school loses money”.

It commits to investing £7bn over the Parliament into schools and college budgets.

It also says the Lib Dems would scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools and give local authorities “clear responsibility for local school places planning”.

The party also promises free school meals for all primary schools in England.

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The Lib Dems say too many teachers are leaving the profession.

They say they would end the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises and work to end “unnecessary teacher workloads”.

There is also a pledge to ensure that all teachers are trained to identify mental health issues among pupils and that schools offer immediate access for pupil support and counselling.

Early years

The manifesto promises 15 hours of free childcare during term-time for all two-year-olds – currently 15 hours is available to the poorest 40%.

The early years pupil premium would increase from just over £300 to £1,000 a year per pupil.

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There is also a commitment to “raise the quality of early years provision”, with every formal early years setting expected to employ at least one person, by 2022, with an early years teachers qualification.

It proposes to expand shared parental leave “with an additional ‘use it or lose it’ month to encourage fathers to take time off with young children”.

“We would make paternity and shared parental leave a ‘day one’ right,” it adds.

It says the party would encourage employers to provide more flexible working, “so that there is a presumption that work is flexible unless there is a clear business reason it cannot be”.

The manifesto says its commitments for education and the family would be funded by increasing income tax by a penny and raising corporation tax from 19% to 20%.

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