The Week Ahead – Election Special
Last Thursday’s General Election provided a remarkable result resulting in the third hung Parliament in Britain’s history. The Conservative Party remains the largest party in Parliament, meaning Theresa May remains Prime Minister following the “confidence and supply” agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party that is likely to be formally agreed in the coming days. We look at the results and consider the consequences for education and SEND…
The Final Result
The Conservative Party 318 Seats (-12)
The Labour Party 262 Seats (+30)
Scottish Nationalist Party 35 Seats (-21)
Liberal Democrats 12 Seats (+4)
Democratic Unionist Party 10 seats (+2)
The new government
May is short of the 326 seats needed for a majority by 8 seats, the Northern Irish DUP are close to a confidence and supply agreement, whereby May could rely on their support on crucial pieces of legislation such as the Queen’s Speech in exchange for concessions.
The DUP would be a natural ally to the Tories as the two align on their economic and Brexit positions. The BBC have profiled who the DUP are here.
With regard to education, the DUP are a supporter of grammar schools, given that selective education is a much more common part of the educational framework in Northern Ireland.
However, despite this support a wide number of reports over the weekend suggest that the grammar school policy is likely to be dropped as the political environment and parliamentary arithmetic stacks against May. Furthermore, the resignation of the PM’s senior advisor, Nick Timothy, one of the strongest advocates of the return of selection appears to be another nail in the coffin. In the meantime, the support for grammars will continue from parts of the Tory benches and our campaign highlighting their impact on SEND Learners goes on!
Elsewhere, the DUP’s website proclaims their vision to give “every child the opportunity to succeed.” On SEND, the party’s manifesto highlighted their desire for better early diagnosis and intervention – furthermore, they state: “we will work to build upon the commitments of the SEND Act 2016 to ensure better and more timely co-ordination between education and health professionals, effective pupil tracking at school transfer and more specific training for classroom assistants and SENCOs.”
A key issue that dominated the education campaign was school funding and potential cuts that would have to be made due to the national funding formula. Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers union, said: “I think we have to say the NFF is off the table for the foreseeable future. It would have required a very strong and committed government to make it work.” Nonetheless, the funding issue will remain at the forefront of the education agenda
The key results for education
- Secretary of State for Education – Justine Greening: Ms Greening kept hold of her Putney seat but her majority decreased by over 9,000 votes. Yesterday’s reshuffle confirmed that Greening had been reappointed as Education Secretary. Read our profile of her here.
— Driver Youth Trust (@DriverTrust) June 11, 2017
Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families: Edward Timpson. The minister who was responsible for SEND matters since 2012 and oversaw the Children and Families Act 2014, reshaping the system of support for disabled children lost his Crewe and Nantwich seat by 48 votes. It is currently unclear whether the ministerial brief will be maintained or who will replace Timpson. Barney Angliss writes what should be on the next Minister’s ‘To Do’ list to fix the SEND system.
- Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, saw her vote rise by 10.6 per cent to win comfortably in Ashton-under-Lyne with a majority of 11,295.
- Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Emma Lewell-Buck won her seat with an increased majority.
- The Liberal Democrats education spokeswoman, Sarah Olney, lost her seat in Richmond Park.
- Neil Carmichael, the Education Select Committee’s Chair, lost his Stroud seat, meaning a new Chair will be elected. Carmichael had been a vocal critic of grammar schools and had raised concerns about the impact of the new primary assessment system on SEND learners.
A more diverse Parliament
The vote delivered the most diverse House of Commons ever with a rise in the number of women, LGBT, ethnic minority and disabled MPs elected.
Labour has two new MPs in the Commons who have disabilities. Marsha de Cordova, the new MP for Battersea, is registered blind & used her victory speech to champion disabled rights. Jared O’Mara, who has cerebral palsy hemiparesis, defeated former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Scope’s chief executive Mark Atkinson said it was encouraging to see an increase in the number of disabled politicians elected: “whilst there is more work to do, this is a positive step forward in combating the under-representation of disabled people in public life.”
What Happens Next?
We await the formal agreement between the Conservatives and DUP. The agenda in Parliament is as follows:
- Tuesday 13th June: MP’s will meet in Westminster for the first time tomorrow. First order of business is to choose a Speaker (John Bercow is expected to be relected) and then for each MP to be sworn in – this will take up the rest of the week.
- Monday 19th June: The State Opening of Parliament was scheduled to take place with the House expected to meet at 11.25am for the Queen’s Speech. However, it has been announced today that the Queen’s Speech will be delayed by a few days.
- Our Consultant teacher, Nancy Gedge writes for TES: A few easy steps to improve dyslexic pupils’ experiences
- ‘We need a more nuanced, informed approach to fads like fidget spinners.‘ It’s too easy to dismiss fidget spinners – they could be harnessed to help children, says one teaching assistant – read more.
- Schools Week reports that Pupils with special needs waiting for school place more than doubles.