‘I have no time for snobbery in education’ – Keir Starmer

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has set out his vision for education and training.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has set out his vision for education and training.

23 Sep 2021, 11:41

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Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has set out his vision for education and training. 

Ahead of the Labour Party’s annual conference, which begins in Brighton this weekend, the leader of the opposition has published an essay outlining his vision the country under a Labour government. 

Ready for the future of work

Starmer says UK education policy is “currently failing to prepare pupils for the future workplace”, citing evidence from coverage of research by Learning and Work Institute and Worldskills UK on digital skills shortages.

City & Guilds chief executive Kirstie Donnelly’s warnings, published in FE Week in February 2020, on the damaging impacts of skills gaps on productivity, the UK’s poor productivity performance among the G7 and “worrying” decline in social mobility are used by Starmer to justify action.

One solution offered is a “New Deal for Working People” which Starmer says he will bring in to law in his first 100 days as prime minister and would “provide security and opportunities for people across the country, with improved conditions, quality jobs, training and better pay”.

‘Exciting’ vocational education routes 

In a section lamenting differences in attainment and opportunities for people from independent school backgrounds and state school backgrounds, Starmer takes aim at the academic and vocational education divide saying: “I have no time for those who say that when it comes to poorer children, we should stick to the hard, vocational skills.

“No well-off family would ever consider denying their own children these experiences – so why should we not demand the same for the 90 per cent of British children who do not attend independent school?”

Without much detail, Starmer calls for vocational education routes to be “far more exciting, accessible and rewarding” and says that an education vision under a Labour government “cannot just mean a narrow focus on university education”.

Starmer is set to address the Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton at midday on Wednesday 29 September. 

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    • If the education system was excellent for all, most parents wouldn’t choose to send their disposable income on private education. The majority of parents make sacrifices to be able to pay the fees. If Kier Stammer thinks there are an elite super rich majority at private schools he has not bothered to properly research the subject. For the average £4200 tax a parent will pay on fees, he will find that a lot of pupils will not be able to stay and will not
      Pay the fees, but seek a place at state school. The average cost of a state school place is £5k to the government – there are 615k pupils in private education – so he will have a potentially very large deficit! It should be remembered that every pupil that attends private school does not draw down the £5k for their state place – but there parents still pay the taxes to fund the place. He will also need to build new schools for the thousands of SEN children which are funded to attend private school as the state system doesn’t have the provision. Personally I think that would be a positive, but it would raid his so cold “private School tax chest of tax money” that he is alleging he will use to fund better school provision for all! I would welcome a first class education system in this country – but Kier don’t use headline grabbing statements that private education can pay for it, because the figures do t add up.