Each season, Bright Blue will be campaigning for key policies to be adopted by the Government, which fit with our core aims and address the pressing issues of the day. We join other organisations from across the political spectrum in pushing for urgent implementation of these desirable, credible policies.
Distribute the pupil premium to childcare settings educating children aged 3-4
The prime time to influence children's educational development is in the earliest years of their lives. High-quality pre-school education can improve the attainment of children from the most deprived backgrounds in particular. However, quality childcare is expensive, even with the support Government offers through tax credits and the early years free entitlement. As such, hildren from poorer backgrounds are much less likely than affluent children to be attending formal childcare. The Government should extend the current extra pupil premium funding available for schools who recruit 5-16 year olds on Free School Meals to childcare settings offering pre-school education, so they can better attract and support 3-4 year olds from deprived backgrounds.
Allow for-profit companies to set up and run state schools
Too many parents do not secure their first choice of school for their children. Families on low- and middle-incomes have more limited choices since they often lack the resources to move into a catchment area of a popular school, or to fund private education. The Secretary of State for Education is right to enable and encourage more free schools, set up by parents and not-for-profit organisations. It is impressive that nearly 80 have been set up so far. But to have real choice in our state school system, and as a consequence more competition to raise standards, we need many more new schools. To do this, for-profit companies should be able to set up and run state schools. International evidence shows that for-profit companies can play a positive role in boosting attainment in the state system.
Enable ex-military staff to take over failing Pupil Referral Units (PRUs)
The Government is trying to improve the quality of provision offered in alternative provision, which supports pupils excluded from mainstream schooling. Similar to the initial thrust of the academies programme, where failing schools were taken over by independent not-for-profit organisations, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) identified as failing should automatically be taken out of Local Authority control and managed instead by organisations with a military ethos and a strong track record, or run by effective personnel who served in the armed forces. The Government currently fastracks the training of ex-servicemen and women to become teachers, and measures should be introduced to direct or incentivise them to work in failing PRUs.The Coalition Government is committed to making gradual steps towards raising the personal tax allowance to £10,000 over the life of this parliament. Welcome steps have already been taken towards this goal. To help increase the purchasing power of low and middle-income workers, to assist growth and better guarantee fairness, as soon as the Government is in a position to do so, it should reduce the tax burden on lower and middle income workers.