Clegg fights to end disadvantaged education

By staff

The link between financial disadvantage and low achievement at school must be broken, Nick Clegg said today.

Unveiling the Liberal Democrat education policy for the party’s general election campaign with a keynote speech in London, Mr Clegg said that the link between deprivation and low achievement remained, despite Labour’s investment programme.

“Despite all the money that has been spent by Labour, schools taking disadvantaged children aren’t getting the money they need to break this link by cutting class sizes and providing them with extra support,” he said.

“As we work our way out of this recession and rebuild a country which is fairer, we must ensure our school system gives every child a chance to fulfil their potential irrespective of their background and where they live.”

He wants £2.5 billion extra funding to go towards extra tuition and reduced class sizes in areas which suffer from disadvantage.

The scrapping of tax credits for well-off customers will contribute £1.5 billion of the money, according to the Lib Dem figures, while a “radical” change to quangos and inspection regimes would contribute another £1 billion. The ContactPoint database would also be scrapped.

Teachers’ unions offered the recomendations a cautious welcome.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “We are pleased the Liberal Democrats have pledged to invest an extra £2.5 billion in schools.

“But, while we agree there is some scope for efficiency savings in the education department, there would need to be very careful thought about where any cuts should be made to pay for this.

“And whether it would be sensible to cut as much as £1 billion from the education budget is highly debatable.”

The Lib Dem announcement comes as Universities UK, a higher education body, warned hundred of thousands of potential students may be denied a place because of spending cuts.
Higher education minister David Lammy branded the fears “scaremongering”.