On the day of the Education Secretary’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Tuesday 2 October, the NEU will be putting up billboards around Birmingham asking Damian Hinds questions that the people of Birmingham, parents, teachers and support staff need answers to.

The posters will be up by 6.00am at the following sites. They will be on display for 24 hours.

Site 1 – Aston Expressway facing into Birmingham, B6 4BA

Question: Why did 35,800 teachers leave for other jobs last year?

The number of teachers leaving the profession has increased by 45% since 2011. The 35,800 teachers who left last year does not include those who retired – it’s the actual number of teachers who just quit the profession. In 2011, one third of teachers left through retirement compared to two thirds leaving the profession for other reasons – while in 2017/18, 16% left through retirement and 84% through other reasons.

Site 2 – Star Lights M6 Motorway junction, A38M heading north, B7 5SA

Question: Why have 99% of Birmingham schools had to make cuts?

All but two Birmingham schools have had their per pupil funding cut in real terms. Birmingham is one of the worst affected areas in the country when it comes to funding cuts. It just won’t do for the Government to repeat its line about funding being higher than ever when schools are having to make these real cuts.

Site 3 – Corner of Corporation Street/Bull Street, B4 6AB

Question: Why are 2,060 children with special needs waiting for a school place?

The statistic showing 2,060 children and young people with a Statement or EHC Plan who are ‘awaiting provision’ in 2018 indicates that these children have no educational provision at all – neither within a school or through alternative means (e.g. a PRU or home tutor provided by the local authority). They are usually without educational provision because the LA has been unable to provide a school place that accommodates their additional needs and have been left with no access to education. In January 2018, 255 children and young people with Statements and 1,805 with EHCPs had no access to education provision.

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“As the Government is not listening, the National Education Union is taking its message to the Education Secretary in Birmingham by posting billboards around the city. For too long the Government has buried its head in the sand about pressing and important issues that are putting our children’s education at risk and driving thousands of teachers out of the profession. Damian Hinds need to use his speech to reassure the country that he will not let education sink into further serious problems by addressing the school funding crisis, the teacher recruitment and retention crisis and the severe lack of provision for children and young people with special educational needs. He should as a minimum announce that there will be an emergency injection for the SEND funding gap and that he will fully implement the School Teacher Review Body recommendation that all teachers and school leaders should get a 3.5% pay rise and he will fully fund the teachers and support staff pay rises that schools have to pay. Things cannot go on as they are: schools, parents, children and young people deserve so much better than this half-baked, underfunded version of education that is being presided over by the current government.”