EARLIER this month Liberal Democrats passed new education policy at our Spring Conference in Southport.

In the creation of this policy, we wanted to ask: what is the purpose of education today, and how does this benefit the child?

The education system faces two challenges that, in my view, are even more concerning that a funding crisis.

The first is mental health and wellbeing. Wellbeing should be at the core of what schools do, but the current system insists on reducing children to a number at the expense of valuing the whole child. We would change this.

The other crisis is about preparing young people for a future where Artificial Intelligence will radically change the nature of the jobs market.

Currently, the system stifles the very traits that robots find hardest to replicate: creativity, empathy, the ability to work as a team and think laterally. To be the masters and not the slaves to AI, we must double down on what it means to be human, which in turn will lead to innovation, higher productivity and enduring resilience.

So how do we propose to do this?

Well first, we’d fund schools properly. The Government seems to be wilfully blind to the frontline consequences of their spending cuts. In the end, it is only children who suffer.

Liberal Democrats would protect per-pupil funding in real terms and we would build on the Pupil Premium, recognising that money put in at the beginning of a child’s journey is money well spent, by trebling the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000.

But money isn’t everything.

Teachers are the glue that binds the system together. We want to ensure professional development is a priority and require all teachers to have Qualified Teacher Status. Teaching is a vocation. It is an art AND a science and it’s time we recognise that. It is time to bring the joy back into teaching.

But what is the point of having great teachers if they are hamstrung to an outdated, straight-jacket curriculum?

Currently, our system outlines a narrow path to success and anything outside of that is failure. Creative subjects and the humanities are critical to our understanding our place in the world, which is why they must be given a level playing field with STEM. We would also have financial literacy, first aid, and compulsory relationship and sex education. Our vision is that when students leave school, they will be ready for the world. Whatever it throws at them. On assessment and exams: the high-stakes testing we subject our children to is killing their love of learning.

We will abolish Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs and replace them with lighter-touch, teacher-moderated assessment, moving to a system that tests because it is the right thing for the student, and where we trust our teachers.

We’d also tackle Ofsted. We absolutely believe we need a school accountability system, but Ofsted has lost the trust of the profession.

Inspections should be done in partnership with schools and measure more than it does now.

We would replace Ofsted entirely with an HM Inspector for Schools that places value on educational leadership and wellbeing of student and staff, on a par with progress and attainment. There is more to the policy than this, but it is beginning of a new direction, one that puts children first and prepares us for the future.

The National Education Union are behind us, and I hope you are too. I’d be very keen to know what you think so please get in touch with your thoughts.