With Rishi Sunak catching the country a little off-guard by calling a snap election for 4th July, it’s interesting to note some of the immediate impacts it will have on schools and the sector over the next few weeks or so.

The most significant impact will be due to the situation known as ‘purdah’. It’s not just the sound your Netflix makes when you sign in but is actually a period of ‘pre-election’ sensitivity which governs how government ministers and the civil service act in the immediate period leading up to an election.

With the dissolution of parliament on 30th May, government ministers must balance the need to keep the country running whilst also campaigning in the election. In essence this means that Gillian Keegan and her ministers will still be running the DfE right up to election day. However, purdah convention means that they should observe discretion in announcing any initiatives that are new or of a long-term character.

So what does this mean for the education sector?

Teacher Pay Deal

Gillian Keegan received the recommendation from the STRB for teachers’ pay for next academic year in May but is yet to publish this or provide a response from the government. With purdah conventions in place, schools will have to wait until a new government is in place in July. The biggest impacts of this will be on school leaders’ budget planning being made more difficult but also the pushing back of a potential timeline of any industrial action by the NEU and other unions.


As a publicly funded body, Ofsted also operates under certain purdah conventions. During the period they will not publish reports on certain local authority services but will continue to carry out inspections and publish reports of schools. However, where the school is the subject of a significant local campaign, the publication of a report may be delayed until after the election. Whilst a formal date has not been set, it seems most likely that Ofsted will also publish any findings from their ‘Big Listen’ consultation after the election.

Workload Reduction Task Force (WRTF)

The WRTF is an independent group consisting of sector and union leaders set up in 2023 to investigate and publish recommendations to the government to reduce teacher workload. These recommendations were due to be submitted by the end of March 2024 with a view to influencing the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) for the next academic year. In a similar vein to teacher pay, we will now have to wait until after the election to hear these recommendations.

School Disruption

With schools often used as polling stations on election day, there is likely to be some disruption as it is often large spaces that are used e.g. assembly halls. The good news is that exam season will be over by then and for secondary schools at least, there may be a little more capacity to work with as some senior students may not be returning to school after their exams.

Scrutiny of Political Impartiality

Strict rules and guidance exist which mean that schools need to be politically impartial at all times. This governs the behaviour of staff but legal duties are also placed on headteachers and governing bodies. In short, schools must prohibit the promotion of partisan political views and should take steps to ensure the balanced presentation of opposing views on political issues when they are brought to the attention of pupils. With sensitivities likely to be heightened during this period, teachers and school leaders will need to be mindful of these responsibilities. Our guidance on this is a useful place to start.

And finally…

Campaign Visits

With education potentially a  key element of party manifestos, don’t be surprised to see some time allocated in the campaign schedule for some school visits and photo opportunities. Although as these pictures show, they don’t always go to plan.

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