Tuesday , September 22 2020

Labor pledge: we would give six years of free study for adults – The Guardian, Theguardian.com


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The proposed move forms part of party’s vision for a cradle-to-grave education service

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Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner.

The shadow education secretary Angela Rayner announced the plan in a speech in Blackpool on Tuesday. Photograph: Victoria Jones / PA

Every adult will be entitled to six years of free study underLaborplans for a radical expansion of lifelong learning, as part of its vision for a cradle-to-grave national education service.

In a speech in Blackpool on Tuesday, the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner will pledge that a Labor government would “throw open the doors” to adult learners to enable them to study and retrain throughout their lives.

Under Labor’s proposals, any adult without A-level or equivalent qualifications would be able to study for them for free at college, with maintenance grants available for those on low incomes.

The six-year free entitlement will also cover undergraduate degrees, higher national certificates, foundation degrees and diplomas of higher education in areas including engineering technicians, nursing associates and professional accounting technicians.

Labor said itsadult educationproposals, which will cost more than £ 3bn, were vital to ensure the workforce have the right skills for new industries and to address the climate crisis. Workers would also be given the right to paid time off for education and training.

“People have been held back for too long,” Rayner will say. “We will make free education a right to ensure we have the skills we need to allow our economy to rise to the opportunities of the future.

“We’ll make sure no one is shut out of education by giving people the support, time and funding they need to train so that we have the skills we need to meet the changing nature of work and tackle the climate emergency . ”

According to Labor, the number of adults currently learning is at its lowest point since 1996. Funding details for the pledge will be set out in the party’s manifesto, but higher taxes on top earners and reversals to giveaways to big businesses are likely to be part of the calculation.

Education is set to be a key battleground throughout the election campaign, with the Conservatives already having promised a £ 14 bn boost to school funding. Labor’s other education pledges if it wins the election on 12 December include 30 hours of free childcare to all two to four year olds and 1, (new) Sure Start centers.

Labor also says it would cut class sizes for all five, six and seven-year olds, scrap national SATs tests for the youngest children in key stage 1 and 2 and provide free school meals to all primary school children. The party’s pledge to scrap university tuition fees still stands and it wants to restore the education maintenance allowance for sixth-form students and university maintenance grants.

Jeremy Corbyn, who will accompany Rayner, will promise to put skills and vocational qualifications on a par with university degrees. The Labor leader is to say: “Tomorrow’s jobs are in green and high-tech industries. We need people to have the skills to take those jobs. By ensuring the ultra-rich pay their way, we can provide training to everybody who needs it. ”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed Labour’s vision of lifelong learning, saying: “It would clearly require a great deal of planning and resourcing to ensure that there is sufficient capacity but we are in a strong position to deliver this ambition building on the existing expertise in our colleges and universities. ”

The Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, Layla Moran, said: “Jeremy Corbyn won’t be able to invest in lifelong learning or in tackling any of the other big economic challenges if he first wrecks the economy with a red Brexit.

“Liberal Democrats are more ambitious. We will stop Brexit and build a brighter future, by giving every adult a Skills Wallet worth £ 10, 000 over their lives to spend on education and training of their choice. ”

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