Bridget Phillipson and Keir Starmer meeting with school puplis

Break down barriers to opportunity

The promise we tell our children and grandchildren that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will get on in life is sadly no longer the case for too many people. Where you are born and how wealthy your parents are too often determines where you end up. We’ve got to break that link.

And that’s not happening. Childcare and early learning is unavailable, inaccessible or unaffordable for too many families, meaning many children arrive at school not ready to learn and early learning goals are being missed. Young people are leaving school without developing core English and maths skills, while creative subjects and skills development are too often being squeezed out. Our schools are faced with teacher shortages, a staff retention crisis, crumbling classrooms and persistent school absences. And there simply aren’t enough high-quality pathways onto apprenticeships, and technical education.

Young people are not being prepared for work or for life. They should be supported to develop the skills to shape and use new technologies, to generate ideas to respond to climate change and harness advances in science for all our benefit. Our education system should build confidence and resilience, knowledge and skills and a love of learning to carry throughout life. That way all young people will get the chance to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Labour will be a government that spreads opportunity to all parts of the country at every age and every stage.

Labour’s first step to change will be to recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects to set children up for life, work and the future, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.

This will boost standards and ensure that every child has access to high-quality education provision.

We will do this by targeting recruitment towards shortage subjects and schools which find it hardest to recruit and retain staff.  

We will also review the curriculum so that it has greater breadth including developing creativity, digital and communication skills that will set young people up for life and work.

A red and white graphic with text reading: Labour's first steps for change 1. Deliver economic stability 2. Cut NHS waiting times 3.Launch a new Border Security Command 4. Set up Great British Energy 5. Crack down on antisocial behaviour 6. Recruit 6,500 new teachers

At a glance: What Labour’s long term education plan means for you

  • Higher standards in schools. Recruiting 6,500 more teachers to ensure every child is taught by a specialist, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.
  • Better wellbeing for young people. Employing mental health support staff in every school, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.
  • Giving every child the best start to the day. Introducing free breakfast clubs in every primary school in England, paid for by closing the loophole which allows some mega rich people who live in the UK to avoid paying tax.
  • Preparing young people for work and life. Give children greater opportunity to study music, sport and the arts by changing the rules about how schools are held accountable.
  • Higher paid jobs through better skills, apprenticeships and training.

Find out more about Labour’s mission to break down barriers to opportunity:

Plan for schools

Labour's plan for high and rising standards for every child

More here
Keir Starmer and Bridget Phillipson facing a classroom of children

Labour has a long term plan to expand opportunities

Early Years: the best start in life

Childcare is important not just because it helps parents to work, but to give every child the best possible start in life. That is why Labour will improve the quality of provision, and work with local authorities to boost the availability of childcare in places where provision is inadequate. At the same time, we will develop vital communication and maths skills early so that every child can find their voice and build the foundations for a brilliant education.

School: Preparing young people for work and life

Evidence shows that improving teacher quality is the most significant factor to improving children’s outcomes. To ensure rising standards in all our schools, we will tackle the chronic staffing crisis in schools by recruiting thousands more teachers particularly in shortage subjects like science and maths. We will reform Ofsted so it gives parents better information, with a scorecard that values breadth and not just a single headline grade.

At the same time, we will reform the curriculum and assessment system so that speaking skills are taken as seriously as reading and writing, creativity and problem solving are woven throughout and young people have the digital skills needed to thrive.

We will tackle the attendance crisis, ensuring children enjoy and want to be in school again.

We will provide the mental health support to back this up and to boost the wellbeing of young people, many of whom still suffering the effects of lockdown. We will ensure all primary children have free breakfast clubs that set them up for the day – so that no child starts the day hungry and there is a safe space to be supported with friends.

Further Education and Lifelong learning

Retraining and up-skilling will need to be locally based and tailored to the needs of each community – plumbers to fit new heat pumps, engineers to lead the application of AI, solar power fitters to harness renewables. 

That’s why we are setting up new Technical Excellence Colleges in all parts of the country so people have the specialist skills local businesses need. And it’s why we are transforming the Apprenticeship levy to give employers the flexibility they need to train their workforce in new and relevant skills.

Watch Labour’s mission:

Keir Starmer launches Labour’s mission to break down the barriers to opportunity
Hear what apprentices think about Keir Starmer’s mission for education