Education and Innovation
We need an education system which delivers a great education to everyone and makes it possible for people of any age to reach their full potential. It means investing in early years, primary and secondary education and removing barriers to higher education by scrapping tuition fees.
The framework for early years education must be updated to ensure it meets the needs of children before they get to school. We also need to ensure that early years teachers have time to teach, by reducing the administrative burden where possible.
Parents in some areas are facing a shortage of school places, particularly in primary schools, where they are seeing increased class sizes or small schools with too many pupils enrolled. We want to give back to local authorities the legal powers they need to plan and provide enough school places in their local areas. The Government must ensure that the funding is available to deliver school places where needed. Local authorities should be at the centre of and responsible for the local democratic control of education.
The national curriculum should be about the “what”, but not “how”, so that schools and teachers can teach in a way that best benefits the student.
Schools should have the freedom to spend their budgets as they see fit and should be encouraged to invest in knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well qualified teachers.
Schools must aim to educate, not to simply pass exams. The number of examinations that young people sit should be reduced, and schools should be judged on a broad range of indicators. The public ranking of schools by exam results should be discontinued.
To minimise the impact of changes to grading criteria, and to ensure that exam results remain comparable in the long term, we will assess the effectiveness of a percentile based grading system.
Our economy depends upon innovation. We need to make sure we have the right policies in place to support innovators in all sections of the economy.
The UK has a very strong technology development and scientific research sector, however research funding is at a 20-year low of 0.5% of GDP. We would increase funding of research to at least 0.8% of GDP, matching the G8 average.
That research investment must be open to all. For that reason we support open access to outputs of publicly funded scientific research. We need Research Councils UK (RCUK) to continue its commitment to full open access, provide grants to scholar-led open access journals and data archives. It is also important that we can build on the work of others, patents exist to reward the inventors of truly outstanding ideas. We would reform the patent system to ensure it does just that, and prevent patents from being used to stifle competition.
We will allow and encourage more competition in the manufacturing of patented devices by introducing a system of compulsory patent licensing, and we will provide exemptions to patent law for non-commercial use, personal study and academic research.