Labour unveil raft of education funding pledges including £500m for Sure Start
Labour charter to pledge education “free at the point of use, available universally and throughout life”.
Angela Rayner drew upon her personal experience as a teenage mum as she insisted a Labour government would spend £500 million to reverse Sure Start cuts.
The shadow education secretary also unveiled further detail on her party’s 10-point charter for its “cradle-to-grave” national education service, which includes promising to provide education that is “free at the point of use, available universally and throughout life”.
Ms Rayner reiterated Labour’s pledge to provide £8 billion for new school buildings and £13 billion to develop existing schools, which would ensure they are safe by removing flammable cladding and installing sprinklers.
Delegates also heard £1 billion would be invested to deliver “gold standard” T-Levels while £10 million of Department for Education cash would be allocated to ending the “scandal of period poverty” in schools.
Labour would seek to implement a “genuinely fair and properly funded” formula for setting school budgets, Ms Rayner said, although further details of what this involves did not emerge.
Speaking at the party’s conference in Brighton, Ms Rayner said: “When I became pregnant at 16, it was easy to think that the direction of my life, and that of my young son, was already set.
“My mum had a difficult life, and so did I, and it looked as if my son would simply have the same.
“Instead, the last Labour Government through support of my local Sure Start centre transformed my son’s childhood, and made sure that his life would not have to be as hard as mine had been.”
She added: “Yet those services are being lost across the country.
“We revealed today that since 2012, £437 million has been cut from Sure Start – nearly half of their entire funding. That means more children and families with less control over their lives.”
To applause, Ms Rayner told delegates: “And I am proud to say that we will give £500 million a year directly to Sure Start, reversing these cuts in full.”
Ms Rayner said Labour’s proposed national education service “won’t stop at 18 or 16”, adding: “At 16 I was out of school and looking for work, but without any qualifications to offer.
“I supported myself and my son as a care worker, looking after the elderly and disabled in their homes. Low qualifications meant low wages. No skills meant no security.”
She said she could change this as a trade unionist, adding: “Our national education service will be lifelong, providing for people at every stage of their life.”
Labour launched the policy in the run up to the general election, looking to boost adult education and skills training. The party says it will consult on the principles of the charter across the education sector.