Copeland’s four general election candidates have been quizzed on three key issues around education: cuts to school funding and how they propose to support Copeland schools, the NHS nursing shortage and if they would re-introduce a student nursing bursary, and their policy on university tuition fees. Here’s what they had to say.


Trudy Harrison (Conservative): One of the first things Boris Johnson did as Prime Minister was set out extra funding for schools, which features in the Conservative Manifesto.

The pledge promises an extra £14 billion for our schools, which translates to at least £5,000 for every secondary school pupil and £4,000 for every primary school pupil. Included in this sum is also £780 million extra to support children with Special Educational Needs.

The Government has also invested £20 million into Whitehaven Academy, to assist the school’s turnaround.

We are also strengthening the powers of Ofsted, ensuring schools are properly regulated. This contrasts with Labour’s position of scrapping Ofsted which would jeopardise standards in schools.

Tony Lywood (Labour): Talk to teachers in our area and they will tell you that the overwhelming number of our schools have suffered nine years of under-funding, and next year it will be worse if the Conservatives win. Some 83 per cent of schools will be more badly off with an on average cut in spending of £245 for a primary school pupil, and £340 for a secondary pupil.

My opponent, Mrs Harrison, has voted for policies which have led us to a position where a young person’s whole school career has been blighted.

Labour, as previously, will make sure schools are properly resourced with increased long term funding. Our funding settlement will ensure that in all schools pupils are taught by a qualified teacher and we have a maximum class size of 30 for all primary schools. We will also fund more non-contact time for teachers to prepare and plan.

John Studholme (Liberal Democrat): The Liberal Democats believe that there has been a massive underfunding of public services. Austerity has gone on for far too long. Tories accept that if we leave the EU, the economy will suffer and tax receipts will drop. The Lib Dems believe that we should stay, and that there will then be a surge in the economy.

Tax receipts will soar and a £50 billion increase in resources can be put back into the economy. Lib Dems have clear priorities for funding. One of these priorities is education. School budgets need to rise significantly. Special needs teaching should be much more generously resourced.

We plan to recruit 20,000 more teachers and increase teaching salaries to £30,000 per annum. Ofsted would be replaced with a more constructive alternative. We will introduce free childcare from the age of nine months.

Jack Lenox (Green Party): West Cumbrian schools have been suffering the same financial squeeze as schools across the country after years of ideological cuts in education spending, and this is worsened by the increased cost per head of providing schooling in rural areas. In the immediate term, we have pledged to end these cuts and increase education funding by at least £4 billion per year.

The Whitehaven Academy and its former sponsor – the Bright Tribe Trust – have made national headlines for the wrong reasons and have highlighted the worst excesses of the toxic private sector involvement that the academy system has introduced. We would end academisation and bring control of all schools back into the control of democratically elected local authorities.


Trudy Harrison: Yes, the student nursing bursary is to be reinstated should the Conservatives win the upcoming election. Student nurses would receive a sum between £5,000 and £8,000 and it won’t need to be paid back.

One of the headline policies in our manifesto was indeed to recruit more nurses. We have outlined plans to recruit an extra 31,000 nurses, while simultaneously training and retaining another 19,000. This means we will have 50,000 more nurses by the end of the next Parliament.

Tony Lywood: Currently there is a shortage of 43,000 nurses in our NHS. Labour will commit to recruit nurses to address those shortages.

Firstly, we will aim to stop nurses leaving because of stress and low morale. We will have safe staffing limits for all.

We will invest in, train and develop nurses throughout their NHS careers. Real terms pay rises every year will show we value our nurses.

My Conservative opponent voted to scrap postgrad student nursing bursaries and applications to study nursing at the University of Cumbria dropped by 41 per cent. If elected, I will vote for training bursaries for nurses, midwives and allied professionals.

John Studholme: The NHS is the jewel in the crown, inspired by Beveridge, a Liberal, and implemented by Bevan, a Socialist. It belongs to and serves us all.

We would set up an immediate cross-party committee to agree a national strategy to integrate health and social care. There is an immediate need for increased funding.

The Lib Dems would achieve this by an increase of 1p in the £ on income tax. The number of nurses and doctors will be increased to meet current requirements. Student nurse bursaries will be reinstated.

Jack Lenox: We have pledged to increase funding for the NHS by at least £6 billion per year each year until 2030, with an additional £1 billion a year in nursing higher education, allowing for nursing bursaries to be reinstated. This will constitute a programme of sustained investment, bringing spending on health services in the UK up to northern European averages.


Trudy Harrison: Our policy is to freeze tuition fees at £9,250 a year. Tuition fees are a progressive policy, shifting the burden off taxpayers, including those who do not go to university, and instead on to those who choose the route of higher education.

The call from Labour for ‘free tuition fees’ isn’t true, nothing is free, just the taxpayer will pay for it. Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows the biggest beneficiaries of such a policy would be those who go on to earn £70,000 a year or more.

Tony Lywood: Labour will abolish tuition fees and restore the maintenance grant.

We need to encourage and invest in our greatest asset, which are our young people.

The Conservatives’ tuition fees have trebled and maintenance grants have been scrapped. The poorest graduates now face an average debt of £57,000.

John Studholme: Going back on our pledge to provide free university education was a mistake. We now wish to see an in-depth review of the complete tuition fee system.

Lib Dems will reinstate the maintenance grant for poorer students. We will also invest an extra £1bn in Further Education and vocational and technical education. I have been impressed by the substantial investment in FE in West Cumbria, particularly at Lillyhall.

Jack Lenox: We support fully funding every higher education student and scrapping undergraduate tuition fees. University should be fully accessible, with courses being offered as learning experiences, not as pre-work training. We would also write off existing debt for former students who have studied under the £9k tuition fee regime.