2024 election and literacy: what are the main parties promising? | Series 1, Episode 21

UK Election 2024

Episode 21

Episode 21 show notes

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Episode 21 transcript

2024 election and literacy: what are the main parties promising?

We look at the manifesto pledges that relate to literacy, reading and English teaching

Who should you vote for in 2024 if you’re concerned about children’s literacy and reading?

We’ve read through the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Reform UK manifestos and we’ve tried to filter the concrete pledges from the vacuous spin to pick out the specific promises that impact literacy, reading and English teaching. Here’s what we found.

Conservative Party

  • English and maths will be taught to 18.
  • Ban Mobile Phones: Require schools to ban mobile phones during the school day.
  • Parental Visibility: Ensure parents can see what their children are being taught – in all subjects -, especially on sensitive matters like sex education. Schools must share all materials.
  • Reading Achievement: Highlight success in making English children the best readers in the Western world.
  • High Standards: Maintain and build on the progress in education standards, with 90% of schools rated Good or Outstanding.
  • Teacher Support: Increase starting salaries to £30,000, reduce teacher workload, and offer bonuses to new teachers in priority areas.
  • Phonics Programme: Continue to support teachers with the world-leading phonics programme in primary schools.
  • Enhanced Curriculum: Support children in mastering basics before secondary school and ensure a broad and enriched education.
  • Improving Attendance: Work to improve school attendance and create a register of children not in school.
  • Special Education: Deliver more school places and new free schools for children with special educational needs.

Labour Party

  • Recruitment of Teachers: Recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects.
  • Early Education and Childcare: Open 3,000 new nurseries and review the parental leave system.
  • Reading and Writing Focus: Promote phonics to improve reading and writing abilities.
  • Curriculum and Assessment: Launch a review of curriculum and assessment to ensure a broad foundation in reading, writing, and maths. This expert-led review of curriculum and assessment, will work with school staff, parents and employers.
  • Support children in studying creative or vocational subjects until they are 16.
  • Support for Children: Fund evidence-based early-language interventions in primary schools to develop communication skills.
  • Teacher Development: Introduce a new Teacher Training Entitlement for continuous professional development.
  • School Leadership: Create a new Excellence in Leadership Programme and enhance the inspection regime.
  • Breakfast Clubs: Fund free breakfast clubs in every primary school to support learning and attendance.
  • Mental Health: Provide access to mental health professionals in every school.

Liberal Democrats

  • Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Create a strategy to ensure every secondary school child is taught by a specialist teacher in their subject.
  • Curriculum Reform: Establish a commission to broaden the curriculum and update qualifications, including ensuring children learn core skills such as critical thinking, verbal reasoning and creativity.
  • Vocational Education: Improve the quality of vocational education and strengthen career advice.
  • Arts in Curriculum: Include arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate and monitor the curriculum to ensure a rich education.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Expand extracurricular activities, including drama and debating, starting with free entitlement for disadvantaged children.
  • Parental Engagement: Implement a new strategy for parental engagement, including regular surveys and accessible information on what children are learning.
  • Tackling Absence: Set up a register of children not in school and address barriers to attendance.
  • Special Educational Needs: Increase funding for local authorities to support children with high needs and create a National Body for SEND.
  • Extracurricular Activities and Breakfast Clubs: Provide free breakfast clubs in every primary school to improve behaviour, attendance, and learning.

Reform UK

  • Ban Transgender Ideology: Prohibit discussions on gender identity in schools.
  • Ban Critical Race Theory: Prohibit teaching Critical Race Theory in schools.
  • Tax Relief for Independent Education: Offer tax relief on independent school fees to ease pressure on state schools.
  • Student Loans: Scrap interest on student loans and extend repayment periods.
  • Free Speech in Universities: Cut funding to universities that undermine free speech.
  • Disruptive Students: Implement permanent exclusions for violent and disruptive students and double the number of Pupil Referral Units.
  • Technical Courses: Increase the availability of technical courses and apprenticeships.
  • Life Skills Classes: Introduce life skills classes in school, including home economics and social media risk, and ban smartphones under 16.

So there it is. That’s what the main political parties are promising to deliver for literacy, reading and English teaching if they win. As the Grail Knight said to Indy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “Choose wisely“!

Episode 21 credits

To see full details of licensing information, Creative Commons, GNU license credits and other attributions that apply to every episode of this podcast, see our School Reading List podcast credits information page.

Credits specific to this episode

  • Kevin MacLeod – Bummin on Tremelo – (purchased lifetime extended license registered to Tom Tolkien license ID FML-170359-11969).
  • Listener submitted monologues from debut and self-published authors. For more details, see the podcast episodes details page.

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About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin