28 June 2017
Commenting on the report Time for Change, published today by the Social Mobility Commission, Rosamund McNeil, Head of Education at the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said: “This report is an urgent reminder of the desperately unbalanced nature of UK society.
“In the fifth richest global economy, there is much, much more we can do to reduce poverty and create a more equal society. The fact that child poverty is rising is an indictment of the priorities of Government. We know the causes of inequality and poverty but fail to act.
“It's good timing that this report recognises the link between a broad and balanced curriculum and engaging children from every background. Highlighting the importance of making careers advice available within the school timetable is also timely. However, the current school funding crisis is a serious constraint. The funding cuts hamper every school, but impact even more negatively in the schools serving deprived areas.
“It's great to recognise the importance of Early Years education, but we mustn't set up ‘school ready’ as the goal. Children need an Early Years foundation phase that supports them to flexibly access learning which is appropriate for their age and individual stage of development.
“One of the biggest impacts on pupil outcomes is access to qualified staff, so investment should be targeted on increasing qualifications, pay and retention within Early Years education. We must aim for high-quality teacher preparation, plus opportunities for ongoing learning, not one or the other.
“Well-funded, high quality education is one vital part to reducing inequality and alleviating child poverty. It is equally important that policy makers look at the broader findings of the report about the root causes of poverty: endemic low pay; stagnating wages; lack of job security, and an inability to afford decent housing.”