General Election: Calder Valley parliamentary candidates reveal plans for education

Calder Valley candidates during the Education Hustings: (LtR) Liberal Democrat Javed Bashir, Labour's Josh Fenton-Glynn, and The Liberal Party's Richard Phillips
Calder Valley candidates during the Education Hustings: (LtR) Liberal Democrat Javed Bashir, Labour's Josh Fenton-Glynn, and The Liberal Party's Richard Phillips

Over 150 people packed the hall of an Elland school to listen to education plans from four election candidates ahead of the General Election.

Tonight, Calder Valley candidates - Liberal Democrat Javed Bashir, Labour's Josh Fenton-Glynn, and The Liberal Party's Richard Phillips - revealed their education plans at The Brooksbank School, on Victoria Road, for the Calder Valley constituency at an Education Hustings, organised by Calderdale Against School Cuts (CASC).

All three candidates - who were quizzed about school spending, further education, national curriculum reform, keeping teachers in work, small schools, the arts, and other topics - are bidding to become the next MP for Calder Valley as the General Elections draws nearer.

When asked about his plans for further education, Mr Phillips said: "We want to restore student grants at a living wage."

In response to a question on keeping teachers jobs safe, Mr Bashir said: "One of the Liberal Democrats flagship plans is to bring in a £30,000 salary for each teacher, which will increase by 3% over time."

Also in response to keeping teachers jobs safe, Mr Fenton-Glynn said: "We're losing far too many good teachers, so we want to provide more support and less pressure by abolishing Ofsted."

The Liberal Party candidate also pledged to abolish Ofsted, and regarding a question on small schools, Mr Phillips said his party would sure classes do not exceed over 30 pupils.

On the topic of mental health services the Lib Dems will pump money to fund early intervention, according to Mr Bashir, while Labour will provide free childcare for children of four, three and two years old.

A main topic of the night was the cuts towards the Arts.

Mr Bashir said: "We want to give options to schools and communities to choose what lessons they want to learn, which will include the Arts.

"This will be done through devolution of power to local government."

Labour candidate Mr Fenton-Glynn said: "An example of how important the Arts are is the fact there's so many game designers nowadays.

"It's a growing industry for a modern world and we must prepare for that - so I'm all for funding the Arts."

The Liberal Party candidate Richard Phillips agreed the Arts is good for mental health recovery and should be a priority for children to learn at least once a week.

Finally, the candidates were asked how important children are.

Labour have pledged free tuition with Mr Fenton-Glynn stating "there's no quantifiable equation to say how important our children are", but stated he will fight for education at every cause.

The Liberal Party candidate Mr Phillips wants to provide a consultation process within secondary educational schools so children can discuss topics such as uniforms, break times, which will feels will "help them integrate more into society by being given choice".

On the topic of tuition fees, Liberal Democrat candidate Javed Bashir was given a frosty reception from those in attendance due to his party's decision to raise tuition fees during a coalition government in 2010 after pledging not to.

He said: "I have apologised for that - even though I wasn't in politics back then.

"The reason why I'm in politics is to right the wrongs, because children are the future."

Sue McMahon, from Calderdale Against School Cuts, said: "It's not all about an oven ready Brexit, we have a duty to keep Education at the heart of this election."

Conservative candidate for Calder Valley, Craig Whittaker, did not attend the event.