Education and childcare must not be pushed down the political agenda to ‘any other business’ (updated)

22 Jun

By Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice: the union for education professionals

In the last three years, we have experienced two general elections, two referendums, two political party leadership elections, one change of Prime Minister and two Education Secretaries. Despite promises of stability during the recent election campaign, it seems we now face a period of instability, although we at least have the stability of the same Education Secretary.

Brexit has, of course, been behind all of these changes, and will continue to dominate the political agenda for years to come. However, Brexit – and the political manoeuvrings at Westminster – must not be allowed to push education and childcare policy and funding down the agenda to ‘any other business’.

During the election, Voice presented its ‘Election Statement’, and we call on the Government to make these issues its education and childcare priorities:

Funding

Provide sufficient funding:

  • for all schools that is distributed fairly to reflect the differences in school structure, size, catchment and phase of education;
  • to fully fund the expansion of early years and childcare to ensure that all types of providers are sustainable; and
  • to ensure further and higher education institutions and sixth forms are funded to sustainable levels during and after Brexit negotiations. 

Recruitment and Retention

  • Develop and implement an effective strategy to recruit and retain qualified teachers.
  • Implement an early years and childcare workforce strategy that is supported by a clear career pathway and national pay structure.
  • Develop, publish and implement a set of professional standards for teaching assistants in schools and colleges, supported by a standard job description and national pay scale. 

Workload

  • Develop and implement an effective strategy to reduce workload for the whole education workforce which recognises all the drivers of workload in all phases of education from nursery to tertiary.
  • Commit to a strategy to enable all education professionals to achieve wellbeing through work-life balance.

Accountability  

  • Review, revise and adopt the school accountability system so that it supports good practice, has balance between quantitative and qualitative data and values the professional judgement of teachers and other education and early years professionals.
  • Review the purpose, value and necessity of baseline assessment, taking account of impact on young children.
  • Commit to a model of primary assessment which values the professional judgement of teachers and ensure moderation standards are consistently applied.
  • Ensure that the primary curriculum influences primary assessment and that assessment does not drive the curriculum.

Policy Development

  • Commit to development of policy for all phases of education and childcare that is led by the profession through positive, meaningful engagement with relevant stakeholders.
  • Adopt a policy to reduce political interference in the curriculum, acknowledging the expertise, knowledge and evidence of the profession to inform and lead education policy development.

13 June 2017

Update: Read “Meanwhile, outside Westminster…” by General Secretary Deborah Lawson in SecEd, 22 June 2017.

 

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