Good careers guidance, financial support for learners progressing to FE and an end to colleges being run for profit are election issues for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

The union has launched its general election manifesto in the run-up to May 2015.

Dr Mary Bousted

Launching the manifesto, general secretary Dr Mary Bousted called for “an end to education being run for profit” and said policy needed “to be based on solid evidence, rather than political whims”.

She said: “The government must stop making schools and colleges behave like rival businesses, with teachers and heads pitched against one another competing for pupils and resources. When schools and colleges work together they are better able to raise pupils’ attainment.

“Children are not products like tins of baked beans; they are individuals with different skills, abilities and interests. And taxpayers’ money intended for education should not be creamed off in profits by private companies or individuals involved in running schools or colleges.

“Young people need education policy to be based on sound evidence, and not on ministers’ whims or pet projects. This coalition government has already diverted at least £637m (between the 2010 general election and the end of December 2013) from the education budget to set up free schools which educate fewer than 22,000 pupils – just 0.3 per cent of pupils in schools in England.

“The best performing education systems have coherent education policies and long-term goals. They carry out proper consultations with a range of stakeholders including parents, employers and education professionals. They invest in high quality teacher training and effective continuing professional development.”

She added: “It is vital our schools and colleges offer the highest quality education, and are led by the best and most experienced professionals. But something urgently needs to change because currently nearly a million young people are not in education or employment, 40 per cent of newly qualified teachers leave in the first five years, and schools have increasing difficulty recruiting new heads.”

The manifesto sets out the ATL’s principles for a world-class education system, including financial support to enable young people to make the transition from school to further education, along with “excellent careers information and guidance”.

It also calls for a return to a “nationwide system of teacher training” where students gain a professional qualification and the broadest preparation for teaching.

The manifesto can be found online here.