Election 2015 debate: Education

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Have your say

In the final part of our four-week election series, which has featured articles on immigration, the economy and health, the parliamentary candidates for the North West Cambridgeshire seat have each submitted 300 words on their party’s plans for young people.

Nicola Day - Green Party

Education is close to my heart. I taught in Peterborough and as a teacher and parent I have seen our education system and the staff within it get pushed from pillar to post each time government changes its mind. 

Children can suffer the consequences. My own son was taught (brilliantly) in a cloakroom at one point. Our current system does not respect child or teacher. 

The Green Party is the only party committed to increasing funding for education.  We are looking at a 50 per cent increase in overall funding. 

We would invest £8 billion a year into high quality pre-school provision and support for parents in the early years. We’d raise the age at which children start school to seven.

Another £1.5 billion over the parliament could bring class sizes down to 20. Another £2 billion would fund top-quality nutritious free school meals.

We over-regulate and over-assess our children and still manage to fail many of them. We would like to abolish league tables and SATS.

We would abolish academy schools. It is unacceptable that state-funded schools are run for profit.

Academies are much less accountable to parents and as a key public service education should remain in public hands. 

We would reverse the recent damaging cuts to the further education sector and provide it with an additional £1.5 billion. With that we would be looking to restore adult education.

We would also end tuition fees for university students.

On May 7 you have the chance to vote for what you believe in. 

I understand the pressures facing members of my constituency with regards to education. We need more MPs like the Green’s Caroline Lucas who are not afraid to stand up for our public services.

I would be honoured to campaign for a better education system as your MP.

Fay Belham - Christian Peoples Alliance

As Christian Democrats we oppose encroaching interference by the state on the content of the curriculum.

The CPA says:

1. Education means teaching ALL points of view, otherwise it becomes indoctrination.

It is the aim of the CPA to educate properly.

This basic rule needs to be instilled into our children when teaching all subjects.

2. As far as school structures are concerned we will do all we can to provide a stable educational environment for children and, where possible, reduce class sizes.

Stability is vital in education and constant changes leave children feeling insecure.

At the same time the more individual attention children get, especially those with special needs, the better.

3. For universities the CPA wants to open debate on all issues and to encourage close relationships between universities and the world of work.

Our universities should increasingly become national debating centres and state funding should be given to encourage this process.

We want an open and free society, where ideas can be expressed and no-one lives in fear of expressing them.

4. In principle, the CPA is opposed to tuition fees which are saddling young people with debt.

We will immediately consult on how we can increase funding for universities and maintain/increase student numbers without tuition fees.

Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Peter Reeve - UKIP

UKIP believes in establishing a world-class British educational system that provides the highest quality education for all.

Education must be responsive to individual needs as children have widely different aptitudes and capabilities and our school system must adapt to this and be far more flexible than it is now. We need good teachers. We need the best people to train to be teachers and we must retain them. UKIP wants to reduce class sizes to 25 pupils which will greatly enhance their learning and ease the pressure on teachers.

UKIP supports grammar schools unlike the other parties which want to deny the right for our brightest children to experience the great academic opportunities they provide. They give children from poorer backgrounds equal opportunities to excel which the current system denies them.

What can be wrong with giving your child the best educational start in life?

We are aware not every pupil is academic so we would establish vocational schools which would be linked to industry so pupils can develop practical skills with the option to take apprenticeship qualifications whilst still at school.UKIP strongly believes in supporting children with special educational needs and would reverse the current government policy of closing special schools. The needs of the child must come first and not be weighed down by divisive political ideology.

The average student leaves university with a debt of £44,000, and 47 per cent of recent graduates were “under-employed” in 2013. This is wrong.

We don’t want our children saddled with crippling debt for years. Undergraduate courses should not be increased while there are not enough vacancies in the economy. Students taking approved degrees in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine will not have to repay tuition fees under UKIP for as long as they work in their discipline for at least five years.

Shailesh Vara - Conservative

A good education is vital for the next generation and we owe it to them to do all we can to ensure they receive it.

Proper funding is crucial and, despite the economic difficulties, the government has protected the schools’ budget in real terms, increasing it from £35 billion in 2010-11 to £39 billion in 2015-16.

In our area I have worked with schools and Peterborough City Council to increase local funding. This has meant working with individual schools as well as leading a delegation of representatives from Orton Longueville School, Stanground College and the city council to meet the Education Minister to negotiate extra funds.

Under the Conservative-led government the number of academy schools has increased. This means more teachers having a say over what happens in the classroom, on discipline and on how budgets are spent.

To enable young people to have the maximum opportunity to acquire the skills needed to fulfil their potential, we have toughened exams and the curriculum so that universities and employers have confidence in the qualifications.

Our changes have ensured that a million more pupils are taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010 and 71 per cent more pupils are taking the subjects that employers value most.

The quality of teachers has never been higher and we have record levels of top graduates qualifying as teachers.

This government has also created two million apprenticeships and it is committed to creating three million more.

A Conservative government will continue to strive for the best possible standards and preparation for our pupils, whether it be for further education or moving into work.

We have achieved much despite the tough economic climate and we remain committed to achieving even more for the next generation.

Nick Sandford - Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrats have put education at the heart of our agenda once again in this election.

We believe every child deserves a great start in life and we are determined to make sure the education system finds and nurtures the best in everyone.

Lib Dems in government have introduced a new pupil premium targeted at children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Through this we are finally tackling the scandalous gap in exam results between rich and poor. But we want to do even more.

If re-elected to government, the Lib Dems have pledged to protect early years, school, sixth form and college budgets, investing in children from age two right through to age 19 so as to raise standards for all.

We will extend free child care to all two-year-olds and look to extend the free school meals for 5 to 7-year-olds which were pioneered by Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister. Eventually, this would include all primary school children.

We will ensure every child is taught by a qualified teacher and that every child in the state sector is taught a slimmed-down basic core curriculum, including life skills, citizenship and age appropriate sex education.

Democratically accountable local authorities will be given clear responsibility for local school places planning.

Lib Dems will end the current Tory-inspired rule that all new state schools must be free schools or acadamies.

Two million new apprenticeships have been created by the coaltion government.

Now we want to double the number of businesses offering apprenticeships and also give young people aged 16 to 21 a bus pass offering two-thirds off fares to cut their cost of travel to work.

Through investing massively in our children and young people, Lib Dems will help create a stronger economy and a fairer society.

Nick Thulbourn - Labour

There is real talent in our area and education is the foundation that allows people to flourish and achieve their potential.

Education is the engine that drives our economy and allows businesses and people to succeed.

Without the talent and work-ethic of our teachers, students and parents it is a real concern where our children’s education would be after the intense pressure of the last five years.

The Labour Party will ensure the funding for education is ring-fenced and, importantly, we will have qualified teachers in every classroom.

We will ensure local oversight of education after the fragmentation of the last five years which will enable the chaos of school admissions to be dealt with and the chaos of Post 16 education, with colleges not opening and multi million pound training centres failing to deliver.

Post 16 education is at the core of both our education strategy but also our jobs and growth strategy.

We need to ensure the skills are created and at the same time ensure the jobs are there that fit the skills which will create real ambition but with a real job and a real future.

We will reduce the tuition fees to make university a fairer and more open choice. We need to ensure the opportunities for graduates are available here where we live.

I have three areas that I personally want to tackle as your MP.

In Cambridgeshire we have been unfairly treated and are £600 per pupil of funding worse off than the national average. It’s plain wrong and needs putting right.

I want to see teachers released from the endless paperwork and free to teach.

I would like to create Silicon Valley-style computer code clubs for all ages to ensure we create real foundation skills in a fast changing technology world.