What does the Queen's Speech mean for education in England?

21/06/17

Wednesday 21st June has seen the State Opening of Parliament, which is when the government's proposals are set out by the Queen in the Queen's Speech.

What makes it into the Queen's Speech is usually the proposed legislation that the government wants to pass into law, as set out within the manifesto of the party that won the General Election. However, as the result of the 2017 General Election was a hung parliament that saw the Conservatives win the most seats but lose their majority, many pledges from their manifesto have been dropped, including some relating to education, because more controversial proposals would be difficult to see them pass through the House of Commons. 

What was in the Queen's Speech that will affect schools?

  • More funding? The first mention of education was to improve the economy to allow for the investment in schools and other public services. 
  • The proposed new national funding formula. The Queen made reference that her government will work to ensure, "Every child has the opportunity to attend a good school and all schools fairly funded". This suggests that plans to implement the new national funding formula which was part of an earlier Schools That Work for Everyone Green Paper on education will go ahead. 
  • Major reform of technical education. There are no further details of what this will involve so far.

What didn't make it to the Queen's Speech?

  • Grammar schools. The Prime Minister made education the focus of her first major domestic policy announcement. It included plans to lift the ban on the creation of new grammar schools, and pave the way for a return of selective schooling. The proposal met with a lot of resistance from within and without the Prime Minister's party, and was not mentioned in the Queen's Speech. 
  • The axing of free school lunches and the introduction of breakfasts. Conservative plans to change the way in which children are allocated free school meals at state-run schools have also been dropped.  

What's the reaction?

Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL (the Association of School and College Leaders), has been quoted as saying, "Schools and colleges will be relieved that there are no immediate plans to introduce further reforms in a sector which has had more than its fair share of change and badly needs a breathing space."

What may also be of interest to parents and schools?

Online safety. A pledge to make the internet a safer space, which will be developed with further details in due course.