14 April 2015
Commenting on the Conservative Party’s manifesto pledges on education, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“In the space of five years, the Coalition Government has de-skilled the profession by dropping the requirement that teachers should be qualified, atomised the education system so that schools are pitted against one another, and worsened pay and pensions to such an extent that many talented teachers are leaving.
“It is a legacy of centralised power, an obsession with testing, and a narrowing of the curriculum. Teachers are now working anything up to 60 hours per week, yet the Education Secretary’s vocal promise to tackle this problem came to little. This is a Government which sought to run 25,000 schools from Whitehall, despite it being impossible. They also presided over a school places crisis which continues to grow. By enabling the academies and free schools movement, the Coalition Government has robbed local authorities of the powers to plan and provide school places to meet demand. Instead, we have schools opening where they are not needed and, elsewhere, class sizes are increasing.
“The Conservative Party’s manifesto, aside from more of the same, pledges resits for those beginning secondary school who did not reach Level 4 in Key Stage 2 SATs. The last thing that schools or pupils need is yet more high stakes testing. Recent research shows that children are becoming conditioned to the idea of school as a place for exams. (1) Creativity and personal development have been sidelined.
“The NUT’s education manifesto sets out a far more positive vision. (2) We need to mend a fractured education system by ending the academies and free schools programme, guaranteeing a qualified teacher for every child, restoring powers of oversight to local authorities, and reversing the downward spiral of education funding. Teaching must also become a more attractive career option – this can be achieved with better pay, greater trust, less bureaucracy and no more teaching to the test.”