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Labour promises 'free breakfasts' in schools in pledge to spend billions on education

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner during a cooking lesson visit at children's holiday club the Leyland Project in Leyland, Lancashire. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA/Getty

Labour has promised “free, healthy breakfasts” to all primary-school age children in a radical spending plan as it vows to “poverty proof” the nation’s schools.

The party said it will improve educational standards and reduce the number of children going hungry. It pledged to recruit and train 20,000 more teachers, cap the cost of uniforms and extend school opening hours to help all pupils access extra sport and healthy meals after lessons.

As well as rolling out free breakfasts in all primary schools, Labour also plans to pilot the free breakfast scheme in secondary schools, should the party win the general election on 12 December.

In addition, the party says it will cap secondary class sizes at 30, invest £7bn on repairing and upgrading school buildings, and provide all secondary school children whose families receive Universal Credit with free school meals.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner announced the plans to “poverty proof” Britain’s schools on Thursday.

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Labour’s announcement comes after think tank Resolution Foundation warned that child poverty could rise to a “record high” if the Conservative party wins the general election.

Citing the Resolution Foundation research, Rayner said: “Rising child poverty under the Tories is an absolute scandal, and it is a disgrace that their plans will push it to a 60-year high if they win this election.

“Labour will tackle child poverty while driving up standards in schools by providing extra support to the children who need it most.

“Labour will invest in both our schools and the children in them, to transform the life chances of a generation being failed by the Tories.”

Other measures contained in the plan include ensuring that every child is taught by a qualified teacher, meaning that about 25,000 currently unqualified staff would need to be fully trained during Labour’s first term in office. It would also need to close the gap in funding for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

Labour set aside extra funds for education in their manifesto with the revenue raised through tax increases, including restoring corporation tax to 26%.

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The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has previously said that Labour’s proposals would mean a 14.6% real-term increase in per-pupil funding over the next three years.

The IFS research also showed that Conservative spending plans for sixth form schools in England would result in real-terms falls in spending per student, leaving it more than a quarter below its level in 2010 and lower than at any point in at least 20 years.