By General Secretary Deborah Lawson for April 2017 issue of Your Voice.
Each week I read many recommendations from research reports about education and childcare. It is one of the ways – in addition to hearing from members – to gather intelligence and supportive evidence about what is really happening in the classroom, lecture hall and nursery.
The reports often challenge government policy. Most are from reputable organisations and experts. Some present refreshingly new ideas with the potential to improve education/childcare, but without disparaging government policy.
The Department for Education (DfE) in England responds to those issues which generate the most headlines. The responses can make interesting reading, even though they can be tedious when they simply promote the ‘party line’ as evidence for a particular policy, ignoring users’ needs.
It seems that whatever the issue – whether it’s teacher shortages, recruitment and retention, selection, social mobility, accountability, attainment and qualification reform, or the thorny issue of school funding – we get a monotonous response. We’re told that school funding is at its highest on record, school core budgets have been protected, more pupils are at schools judged good or outstanding than ever before, and there are more teachers in England’s schools than ever.
In the face of adversity, it seems our education system and those who work in it are delivering, and our young people are achieving. However, is this success because of, or despite, government policy?
It’s time to celebrate the professionalism and dedication of the education and early years staff who have achieved so much in the face of adversity. In austere financial times, accompanied by a fast pace of change – and some policy direction – our professionals continue to do what they came into education and childcare to do – make a difference.
We mustn’t let politicians take the credit for the hard work of our respective professions. Nor should we be a victim of our own success. Voice will continue to argue for better resources, using all available evidence to support the case, not least that the education and early years professions cannot sustain success without adequate investment and funding levels.