As the National Union of Teachers meet at their annual Conference in Harrogate, many delegates have explained how Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education, has ignored the profession’s request to reduce teacher workload in schools. OFSTED’s recent announcement has shown that clarification on excessive lesson plans and not having to stick with the rigid systems of teaching and assessment, have not proved meaningful, in terms of reducing workload. Teachers are being forced out of the teaching profession, because of excessive workload and this will lead to teacher shortage.
The next Labour government will inherit a demoralised teaching profession. Many teachers will appreciate Labour’s policy on qualified teachers for all classes and the introduction of vocational education into the 14-19 curriculum and the ending of the Free schools programme. But Labour will have to tackle the workload issue for teachers and build the trust and confidence of the profession, to make sure that pupils and students have the education needed to create opportunity and social mobility.
Teachers will not welcome another 5 years of a Conservative Government
The Coalition Government has failed to connect with the Teaching profession and many teachers will not welcome another five years of a Conservative government determined to undermine the profession while fragmenting and privatising education. That is why the Free school programme must be stopped by the next Labour Government, to make sure that new schools are not created when there is plenty of places in local schools.
Any restructure of Education must be tackled carefully, parents do not wish to see a restructuring of education provision that will jeopardise the life chances of their children. Locally parents in West Somerset have been concerned about education at West Somerset College. What is really needed is the establishment of Local Educational Boards, involving parents, councillors and users, which can act as a local forum to discuss education and the needs of the local community. These Local Boards can then commission services from the Local Authority to develop education locally, based on the needs of students and pupils. Many Local Authorities have reneged on their responsibility for education and Somerset County Council have been unable to convince OFSTED that Children Services can be taken out of special measures, not due to the hard work of employees but the failure of leadership, management and governance.
The Labour Government will have to evaluate the role of Local Authorities, especially regarding education and this must be considered as part of the devolution policy, local governance and responsibility for education.
Cllr Mick Lerry Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset Constituency
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