PARENTS

Election 2015: What The Manifestos Have To Say About Children

23/04/2015 16:38 BST | Updated 05/05/2015 21:59 BST

With the general election looming on 7 May are you still undecided as to who will get your vote?

We've been bombarded with information over the last few months, what with the seemingly endless political broadcasts, debates and public appearances. And it can be hard to make sense of all of the noise from each party, especially with the admittedly amusing in-fighting, bacon sandwiches and Farage malfunctions.

So HuffPost UK Parents has scoured all the manifestos to find the policies that relate directly to children - after all they're the ones who are going to be most affected by the next government's changes to education and childcare.

We've laid it out in chronological order to make it easy to see what the parties promise in relation to pregnancy, adoption, parental leave, childcare, child benefit, education and tuition fees.

parents voting uk

Pregnancy

The Conservative Party promise to: Grant access to mental health support during and after pregnancy for all women and "strengthen" the health visiting programme for new mothers.

The Labour Party promise to: Guarantee all women in labour one-to-one care from a midwife.

The Liberal Democrats promise to: Invest £250 million into care for pregnant women, new mums and those who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth and who are affected by depression.

The Green Party promise to: Ensure the laws to prevent workplace discrimination against women on the grounds of pregnancy are properly enforced and pay special attention to mothers' mental health issues during and after pregnancy.

The UK Independence Party promise to: Fund 3,000 more midwives and offer direct access to specialist mental health treatment for pregnant women and mothers of children under 12 months of age.

Plaid Cymru promise to: The manifesto makes no specific mention of pregnancy or midwives.

The Scottish National Party promise to: Tighten the law on maternity discrimination.

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Adoption

Conservatives: Introduce regional adoption agencies which will work across local authority boundaries to match children and parents, and launch a new adoption support fund to provide adoptive parents with more help.

Labour: The manifesto makes no specific mention of adoption, the focus is on more support for children in kinship (family and friend care).

Lib Dems: Tackle delay and instability in foster care with better support and training for foster carers, including mental health issues.

Continue to make it easier for children in care to be matched with adoptive parents, through the national adoption register and the new national gateway for adoption.

Greens: The manifesto makes no specific mention of adoption.

UKIP: Reform the care system so the 68,000 children in care in the UK can find stability through fostering and adoption in a faster, more efficient way.

Plaid Cymru: The manifesto makes no specific mention of adoption.

SNP: The manifesto makes no specific mention of adoption.

(For a more detailed analysis of this issue please visit Adoption UK.)

newborn

Parental Leave

Conservatives: The manifesto makes no specific mention of any change to the recently introduced shared parental leave policy.

Labour: Double paid paternity leave from two to four weeks and increase the level of paternity pay from £140 to more than £260 per week.

"Support" grandparents to be more involved in caring for their grandchildren.

Lib Dems: Expand shared parental leave by dedicating six weeks of parental leave exclusively to fathers (which they can’t share with the mother), providing an additional “use it or lose it” month and thus extending total parental leave to 58 weeks.

For same-sex couples, each partner would be entitled to six weeks leave, with the rest available to share.

Greens: Ensure parents continue to receive statutory maternity and paternity pay.

UKIP: The manifesto makes no specific mention of maternity, paternity or parental leave.

Plaid Cymru: The manifesto makes no specific mention of maternity, paternity or parental leave.

SNP: Increase paternity leave.

Childcare

Conservatives: 30 hours free childcare a week for three and four-year-olds for families where all parents are working.

Labour: 25 hours free childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds. Plus legally guaranteed access to wraparound childcare from 8am to 6pm through local primary schools with after school clubs and activities.

Lib Dems: 20 hours free childcare a week for all two to four-year olds and all children from nine months if all the parents in their household are in work (ie. both parents in a two-parent home, or one parent in a single-parent family).

Ensure every formal early years setting employs at least one person who holds an Early Years Teacher qualification.

Greens: Build a free but voluntary universal early education and childcare service for all children from birth until compulsory education.

UKIP: Initiate a full review of childcare provision and continue to fund the current childcare offer of 15 hours a week of free childcare for all three and four-year-olds and all two-year olds whose parents are on certain benefits.

Remove the requirement for parents to place their child with an Ofsted-registered childminder to claim their free childcare entitlement.

Offer before and after-school care from 8am to 6pm through all primary schools during term time.

Plaid Cymru: Provide an extra year of early years education and financially accessible childcare.

SNP: 30 hours free childcare a week for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds.

toddlers

Child Benefit

Conservatives: No mention of child benefit cuts, caps or increases.

Labour: Cap child benefit rises for two years to help "balance the books".

Lib Dems: No mention of child benefit cuts, caps or increases.

Greens: Increase child benefit from 2016 to £40 a week for each child.

UKIP: Limit child benefit to two children for new claimants.

Plaid Cymru: Initiate a new "Claim It" campaign so that everybody entitled to benefits claims them.

SNP: Increase child benefit at least in line with CPI (Consumer Price Index) inflation.

children school

Schools And Education

Conservatives: Maintain the amount of funding schools receive per pupil.

Introduce "tough" new standards for literacy and numeracy in primary schools and make children who do not "reach the required standards" in exams at the end of primary school resit them at the start of secondary school.

Require all secondary school pupils to take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography.

Open more than 500 new free schools and force "coasting" schools to accept new leadership.

Train an extra 17,500 maths and physics teachers and increase the number of teachers able to teach Mandarin.

Train all teachers in how to tackle serious behaviour issues and continue to tackle all forms of bullying in schools.

Increase the number of cadet units in schools.

Labour: Protect the education budget so it rises in line with inflation, scrap free schools and cap infant class sizes at 30 pupils.

Require all teachers to become qualified and introduce new directors of school standards in every area to monitor the performance of local schools.

Make private schools form partnerships with state schools if they wish to continue receiving business rates relief.

Introduce compulsory age-appropriate sex and relationships education and work with schools to stop homophobic bullying.

Lib Dems: Protect school budgets from nursery to 19 and extend free school meals to all primary pupils as resources allow.

Ensure a "fair" local schools admissions process.

Require every teacher in a state funded school to hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or be working towards it.

Request an independent panel of experts to design a “core curriculum” that all state schools would be required to teach, including financial literacy, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, citizenship, age-appropriate sex and relationship education, and religious education.

The remaining National Curriculum would become guidance, giving schools more freedom to design their own lessons.

End illiteracy and innumeracy by 2025 with action in nurseries to get all four-year-olds ready for school.

Encourage more children to study science, technology, engineering and maths, and improve the quality of vocational education.

Complete the introduction of reformed GCSEs.

Implement the children’s commissioner’s report They Go The Extra Mile into the prevention of and positive alternatives to exclusion and strengthen appeals panels.

Provide rapid support and intervention to schools that aren't good or outstanding.

Repeal the rule that all new state funded schools must be free schools or academies and allow the establishment of new faith schools, while ensuring all faith schools develop an inclusive admissions policy.

Greens: Raise the compulsory education age to seven years and reduce class sizes to 20.

Abolish SATS, league tables and Ofsted.

Increase outdoor education and physical activity, make equality and diversity lessons mandatory and make Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) a compulsory part of the school curriculum, (which includes age appropriate and LGBTIQ - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer - inclusive relationship, sex and HIV education).

Require every school to have an anti-bullying programme that explicitly combats homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Bring grammar schools into the comprehensive system and integrate academies and free schools into the local authority system.

Remove charity status from private schools and phase out public funding of schools run by religious organisations.

UKIP: Create class sizes of no more than 30 pupils with the aim of reducing this to 25 pupils over time.

Provide free nutritious lunches, with local and GM-free ingredients, and get children involved in growing, preparing and cooking food where possible.

Abolish Key Stage 1 SATS.

Support age-appropriate sex and relationship education at secondary level, but not for primary school children. And ensure all parents have a right to withdraw children from sex education classes if they wish.

Make First Aid training a statutory part of PSHE.

Introduce an option for students to take an apprenticeship qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs.

Abolish the AS level exam as a stepping stone to a full A level, while retaining it as a standalone qualification in its own right.

Give existing secondary schools the opportunity to become grammar schools or vocational schools.

Plaid Cymru: Provide an additional year of schooling with qualified educational staff providing classes for three to four-year-olds.

Call for fewer inspections for "successful" schools, but those that are not "reaching their potential" will be subject to on the spot inspections.

Provide compulsory citizenship classes and "healthy relationships education" for all children and young people, and embed "values of equality, tolerance and respect" in everything schools do to tackle sexist, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory bullying.

Introduce a compulsory modern language GCSE and ensure all children leave education with an understanding of the history of Wales, the Welsh language, climate change and coding.

Oppose free schools in Wales.

SNP: Introduce a new Education Bill for Scotland that will focus on ways to improve attainment, especially among the most disadvantaged children.

Impose a statutory duty on councils to narrow the attainment gap.

Ensure all teachers are appropriately trained and qualified.

Place a duty on councils to assess the need for Gaelic primary education following a request from a parent.

school uniform

Special Educational Needs

Conservatives: The manifesto explains the steps that have been taken by the current government but no mention is made of plans for the next government.

Labour: Provide teachers with better training for working with children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Lib Dems: Improve the identification of Special Educational Needs and disability at the earliest possible stage, so targeted support can be provided and primary schools are better prepared for their intake of pupils.

Continue to promote the local integration of health, care and educational support for children with Special Educational Needs and health problems.

Greens: Recognise the right of every child who is disabled to a mainstream education and give local authorities democratic accountability in equality of access for children with special needs.

UKIP: The policy of closing special schools will be reversed.

Plaid Cymru: Review the provision for children with Special Educational Needs to ensure resources are used in the most effective way and work with local authorities to ensure all schools have appropriate access for physically disabled pupils.

SNP: The manifesto makes no specific mention of Special Educational Needs.

16th birthday cake

Post-16 Options

Conservatives: Set up three million more new apprenticeships and arrange for Jobcentre Plus advisers to work with schools and colleges to supplement careers advice and arrange work experience and apprenticeships.

Labour: Make maths and English compulsory for all students up to the age of 18 and introduce the Technical Baccalaureate, a vocational award for 16 to 18-year-olds, which will combine an employer accredited qualification with a work placement.

Provide face-to-face careers advice for all young people and guarantee apprenticeships for every school leaver who attains the necessary grades.

Lib Dems: Double the number of businesses hiring apprentices by extending them to new sectors, like creative and digital industries, and improve links between employers and schools, encouraging all schools to participate in mentoring schemes.

Increase the number of apprentices from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds, ensure gender balance across industry sectors, and encourage underrepresented groups to apply.

Expand higher vocational training like foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.

Give 16 to 21-year-olds a discount bus pass.

Promote social action and work to raise the status of youth work and youth workers.

Greens: Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Oppose the privatisation of further education and return further education colleges to the control of local government.

Prioritise training in the skills needed to build a low-carbon economy and provide an apprenticeship to all qualified 16 to 25-year-olds who want one.

Increase investment in young people’s services, providing youth clubs, youth councils and non-curricular education and training.

Provide free local public transport to young people and students.

UKIP: Allow students who take up an apprenticeship qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs. to continue their apprenticeships past the age of 16.

Plaid Cymru: Encourage all young people to stay in education or training until they are 18.

Promote apprenticeships, particularly Higher Level Apprenticeships, and support the European Union’s Youth Jobs Guarantee that will provide training or employment to any person under 25 who is out of work for more than four months.

SNP: Extend the availability of the Educational Maintenance Allowance in Scotland to an additional 10,000 school pupils and 12,000 part time college students.

Deliver 30,000 Modern Apprenticeships each year for young people in Scotland.

Universities

Conservatives: Roll out more Degree Apprenticeships, which combine a degree and an apprenticeship.

Encourage universities to offer more two-year courses and abolish the cap on the number of students in higher education.

Labour: Reduce tuition fees to £6,000 a year and make new Technical Degrees the priority for expansion.

Lib Dems: Review higher education finance to consider any necessary reforms.

Greens: Make higher education free by ending the student loan system and reintroducing student grants.

UKIP: Remove tuition fees for UK students taking approved degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine on the condition that they live, work and pay tax in the UK for five years after the completion of their degrees.

Remove tuition fee loans for students from the European Economic Area.

Drop the 50% target for school leavers going to university.

Plaid Cymru: Remove tuition fess for students from particularly challenging backgrounds and those studying subjects vital to the Welsh economy and public goals.

Continue to work towards making higher education free for all, by providing a subsidy to students resident in Wales who wish to study in Wales.

SNP: Guarantee the continuation of free university education in Scotland and support the reduction of tuition fees across the UK.

confused child

Anything Else Of Note?

Conservatives: Require age verification for access to all websites containing pornographic material and give music videos an age-rating.

Labour: Introduce mandatory reporting of child abuse.

Lib Dems: Improve children's mental health services.

Greens: Make it illegal to stop nursing mothers feeding their babies in public and invest in evidence-based parenting programmes.

Ensure child protection systems tackle child neglect and abuse early on, including changing the law so emotional abuse is treated on a par with physical abuse.

UKIP: Require local authorities to keep a register of child care providers willing to offer emergency childcare cover at short notice and during atypical hours.

Legislate for an initial presumption of 50-50 shared parenting in child residency matters and give grandparents visiting rights.

Bring forward a review of childcare and child protection services.

Plaid Cymru: Provide children with children protection against smacking by removing the reasonable punishment defence.

Improve the availability of childcare for children with disabilities.

Review the effectiveness of child protection provision to make sure schools and social services co-operate efficiently.

Investigate how tax credits can be better used to reduce child poverty.

These are just the issues that relate directly to children, but of course other areas of the manifestos such as housing and the NHS also have a huge impact on families, so for a broader perspective check out HuffPost UK Politics.

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