Parents and teachers will be deeply disappointed with Queen’s speech, says union leader

Teachers and parents will be deeply disappointed that the Government has ignored the interests of children and plans to create more chaos in education, says general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).


Responding to the Queen’s speech, Mary Bousted said: “Once again the Government is not acting in the best interests of children. Pushing ahead with its plans to make all schools into academies will cause more chaos for children and schools at a time when the Government should be focussing on the priorities – a school place for every child and a qualified teacher for every class.

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“The Government needs to get a grip and sort out the teacher shortage crisis, school places crisis and the increase in child mental health issues all of which are more important than reorganising who runs schools.

“Its plans, outlined in the Queen’s speech, will add to the chaos the Government is already presiding over – chaos with primary tests, the specifications for GCSEs, AS and A-levels running late, and the Department for Education’s (DfE) accounts being criticised by the National Audit Office for the second year running.

“We urge the Government to think again, to listen to the concerns of parents, governors, teachers, heads, councillors and MPs, including its own backbenchers, and press the pause button before it causes any more chaos for children.

“ATL’s view of what makes for a ‘fair’ funding formula for schools is different to the Government’s. We call for the Government to increase the overall schools’ budget because simply redistributing the existing budget will create winning and losing schools and unfairly penalise children. We know deprivation limits educational outcomes, so the new funding formula must ensure schools in disadvantaged areas get the funding they need so they can give all their pupils a fair chance in education and life.”

On the Government’s skills plan, Mary Bousted said: “The Government itself has exacerbated the skills shortages by making huge cuts to adult skills budgets over the past six years. Rather than constantly reforming further education, the Government should be investing in skills education and training.”

On alternative provision, Mary Bousted said: “We are pleased the Government is going to focus on vulnerable pupils to ensure their education, whether in mainstream or alternative provision, is safe and of a high standard. But school leaders are already under intense pressure which is driving many from the profession. Without enough appropriately qualified staff, any reforms are unlikely to work.

“We welcome action on child poverty but the Government must remember that poverty is caused by a complex range of factors. Instead of tinkering with how it measures poverty, the Government needs to recognise its culpability in the disgraceful rise of children and families depending on food banks, living in sub-standard housing and struggling to make ends meet.”

Mary Bousted added: “Once again the Government has been highly selective about the statistics it is using. The Local Schools Network says that pupils’ results improved by 6.4 per cent more in non-academy primary schools than in similar sponsored academies between 2014 and 2015.

“It is also worth noting that converter academies were all good or outstanding schools before they became academies, and the Government has not chosen to highlight the results in sponsored academies which are significantly lower, with only 44.7 per cent of children achieving five or more good GCSEs (including English and Maths) compared to 63.3 per cent in converter academies.” 


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