Commenting on the announcement of new academies being built under the Government’s TBNP, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Despite repeated warnings, the Government has shown itself incapable of properly addressing the fundamental issue of school places. This latest announcement underlines a key failing of the Government: the continued reliance on its pet academies and free schools project.
“With more than 250,000 new school places needed by 2014 and more than a fifth of primary schools full or over capacity according to the NAO, we need an urgent, sustained and rational approach to tackle this problem. Instead of relying on its costly and inefficient academies and free school projects controlled from Whitehall, the Government needs to give local authorities the power and the funding to plan and provide enough places for children to be educated in an appropriate environment”.
Commenting on today’s report by Ofsted, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The report shows that the vast majority of schools are doing well by Ofsted’s standards. Sir Michael Wilshaw is quite right to praise the progress of London schools. This transformation came about as a direct result of the London Challenge scheme whereby schools worked together, sharing best practice and recognising that school communities tend to thrive when they feel trusted and supported. It was regrettably axed by the Coalition Government. The London and City Challenge were a cost effective approach which could easily be replicated across the country and it is a great shame that political stubbornness is preventing it.
“Allegations of a ‘poverty of expectation’ are insulting to teachers. Schools can control some of the factors over children’s lives but not all of them. We have to tackle the inequalities in society if we are to tackle the low achievement of working class pupils. While no teacher would use this as an excuse, it is a plain fact that social background has a very significant impact on the achievement of children. Good quality early years education alongside a relevant and engaging curriculum and examination system is essential. Cuts to education grants, careers advice, the increase in tuition fees and high youth unemployment all impact the most on working class students. Without access to affordable further and higher education, as well as good quality apprenticeships, many students will just not be able to continue in education or training regardless of their ambition, or indeed that of their teachers.
Commenting on today’s report by the National Audit Office on Establishing Free Schools, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The NUT welcomes today’s report from the National Audit Office and the light it sheds on a process which until now the taxpayer has been funding with little or no information; either on the rationale behind the decision-making process for approving these new schools, or the value for money that the schools represent.
“At a time when school budgets are being squeezed, taxpayers are entitled to know that education funding decisions are being made prudently. It is a disgrace that the key determinant of the free schools policy so far has been to ensure the opening of schools at pace, rather than ensuring that they are needed and will provide ‘value for money’.
Commenting on the Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor, George Osborne, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Increasing the pension age is a backward step. The fact that we are living longer does not mean that people are capable of full time or strenuous work. For some jobs, working to 68 and beyond is simply impossible. No one wants 70-year-old teachers in classrooms full of infants or teenagers. Nor, I am sure, do we want 70-year-old nurses, builders, police officers or firefighters, to name but a few professions where this increase in working age is simply not feasible.
“Increasing life expectancy is not universal across the population. These pension proposals are being thought up by people who have a secure economic future and will be able to retire at a reasonable age on their assets. The majority of the population will be left with nothing: no money, no jobs, and no pension. This does not make economic sense as the state will have to make some provision for the millions who will be thrown into financial hardship or ruin as a result of this increase.
Commenting on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results in maths, reading and science for 2012, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The snapshot provided by the PISA results clearly shows that countries which are performing well, pay teachers well, respect the profession and encourage collaboration between teachers and schools.
“Andreas Schleicher makes the point that there are more motivating factors for teachers than money, such as professional respect: this is the exact opposite of the direction Michael Gove is taking education in England. Performance Related Pay and the fragmentation of the education system make it increasing difficult to encourage collaboration between teachers and schools. Government needs to stop their attacks on teachers’ pay and pensions and return schools to local democratically elected local authorities with a responsibility for the range of essential support and services including school provision, admissions and school improvement.
Commenting on the Girl Guides fifth annual Girls’ Attitudes Survey, focusing on equality for girls, Christine Blower General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
Commenting on the remarks by Ex-Permanent Secretary, Sir David Bell that universities took more trainees in after the Government’s flagship school-based trainee scheme School Direct failed to recruit enough teachers, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union said:
Commenting on the news that another free school is failing to provide adequate education Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union said:
‘The Government’s free school policy is now in crisis. David Cameron needs to show some bold leadership and announce a pause in the programme so that the lessons of the early free schools can be learned.
Commenting on the report Music in Schools: what hubs must do, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“It is unsurprising but nonetheless hugely disappointing that music is being side-lined in many schools. As a consequence of reforms to the examination system and the focus of league table measures on narrow ‘academic’ areas, arts and vocational subjects have been well and truly relegated. Schools live in fear of falling down league tables so it is inevitable that there is a concentration on teaching those subjects which the Education Secretary has deemed most important. This is not helped by an arid new National Curriculum which discourages active and creative approaches to learning and teaching.
In response to the letter from the Secretary of State on the 14 November, in which Michael Gove attempts to portray the NUT and NASUWT as being unwilling to enter into talks, the NUT and the NASUWT have responded criticising the Education Secretary for his game-playing. Such tactics do a grave disservice to children and young people and the education service. Teachers will be shocked at the cavalier attitude that he is taking to what are serious issues for the profession.
Both unions have reasserted their commitment to taking part in meaningful talks genuinely to resolve our trade disputes. We urge the Secretary of State to do the same.
In response to the letter from the Secretary of State for Education published on 6 November 2013, the two largest teachers’ unions, the NASUWT and the NUT, representing nine out of ten teachers, are today reaffirming their commitment to a jointly coordinated campaign to Protect Teachers and Defend Education.
Commenting on the Education Select Committee’s fourth report of session 2013-14, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The NUT welcomes the fact that this report recognises the “critical role” of local authorities in facilitating and supporting collaboration between schools. However, this is being fundamentally undermined by the growing numbers of academies and free schools that are outside the local family of schools.
“The Government’s claim that it is creating greater autonomy and accountability in the school system is clearly contradicted by the imposition of the forced academy programme and the expansion of unaccountable academy chains.
Commenting on Ofqual's new designs for English literature, English language and maths GCSEs in England from September 2015, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said:
"We welcome Ofqual's assertion that GCSEs should remain a respected qualification. Michael Gove's attempts to discredit them and replace with English Baccalaureate Certificates were unjustified and rightly failed to pass the test. In an already over-complicated qualifications system, continuity is essential.
"Although the changes – and in particular the new 1-9 grading system – are intended to represent a new standard, this will simply be confusing for learners, the public and employers. In addition, the ‘one size fits all' model of having a single three-hour exam at the end of a course is built on a faulty premise that by definition all other approaches represent lower standards. We do not accept this. Tiering, resit opportunities, modules and coursework all have their role to play in getting the very best out of all learners. We are glad that Ofqual hasn't ruled out tiering and non-exam assessment altogether and will monitor closely the subject-by-subject decisions that Ofqual now makes.
JUAC Calls for Transparency as leaked report highlights DfE’s desire to scale back work on promoting effective asbestos management in schools
A leaked report highlighted in today’s Guardian*, ‘Asbestos Saving?’ has caused deep dismay among unions representing teaching and support staff in schools.
The confidential report suggests possible areas where cut backs at DfE headquarters could be made, including a suggestion that stakeholder involvement in raising awareness about the need to protect staff and children from the dangers of asbestos in schools should end, with the scrapping of the DfE Asbestos Steering Committee.
The two largest teacher unions, the NASUWT and the NUT, representing nine out of ten teachers, are today confirming the next phase of their jointly coordinated campaign to Protect Teachers and Defend Education.