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What does the next government do about education?

Funding, pay and the increasing expectation from schools will challenge the next government's education policy, educators and parents in Kent and Sussex are warning.

As always in elections, education has played a major part in the campaigns of the main parties ahead of the vote.

Ben Hulme, executive head teacher at St Paul's Church of England Primary School in Swanley, Kent, said funding is one of the biggest issues, both staffing and being able to support pupils and their families.

He said the other agencies that might have done so previously "just aren't there any more".

The legacy of covid has had an impact too. Teacher James Johnson remembers having to show a child how to use a knife and fork when they came back from learning at home during the pandemic.

He said things like that are proving to be "completely different" to when he started teaching.

Attendance at St Paul's has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but ongoing absences, teachers striking and the need for more funding have all affected schools.

Mr Johnson said budgets are "the scariest thing" and that "quite often the answer is no now because we can't afford it".

Mr Hulme thinks if we can get "education right, then hopefully everything else will fall into place".