20 April 2015
Commenting on the Liberal Democrats’ 'Five Point Plan' for teachers and parents Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“With around 1,000 teachers and thousands more parents in every constituency, it is good politics for the Liberal Democrats to focus on education.
‘The welcome Liberal Democrat guarantee to protect per pupil funding will keep the debate raging about which parents and pupils will suffer if education funding is slashed. Squeezed funding for schools in a new Parliament will mean fewer teachers and fewer courses; and larger class sizes with longer waiting lists for children with additional needs. Schools in deprived communities always suffer most when education spending is cut.
‘The fact that the Lib Dem manifesto needs to reinstate the principle that teachers ought to hold the right qualifications to teach is a sign of how far this Coalition Government has undermined the profession of teaching. No successful education system around the world allows unqualified people to teach; yet the Coalition Government treated qualifications and investment in teachers’ skills development as wholly dispensable.
‘The Liberal Democrats promise less political interference and more autonomy for teachers on curriculum content. Many teachers will remain sceptical. Teachers carry the scars from five years during which Ministers talked of autonomy but mandated reform after reform, seized legal powers from local authorities and imposed unnecessary and costly structural change on schools against advice from teachers.
‘The English system now features a hugely over packed national curriculum; but the more urgent burden weighing the system down is the broken accountability system. Teachers will respond well to any real efforts to remove Ministerial interference from curriculum content and exam standards; but they will ask today why the Lib Dems have chosen to stay silent about the negative impact of Ofsted inspection on children, and about the negative impact of fragmentation on the English education system”.