Government reforms failing to tackle inequality

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, comments on the latest report by the UCL Institute of Education.

This astonishing report confirms what the NEU has been warning about for some years.

England now has one of the most socially stratified education systems in the advanced economies and, the post-2010 academy and other reforms have made this worse.

We are now witnessing the predictable consequences of the expansion of the academy programme from 2010.

Michael Gove’s policy was aimed at fracturing our schools system into competing units, as well as undermining local authority influence and support networks.

As this report notes, an ironic consequence of this has been the emergence of a ‘more complex and less accountable form of bureaucracy that lacks any local democratic mandate.’

While genuine democratic oversight and accountability has been removed from the system, other forms of centralised power have grown.

The large Multi Academy Trusts that Michael Gove promoted are shown not to work.

Ofsted and the accountability framework are shown to have a negative impact on the school system and schools’ ability to respond to the needs of all pupils.

The concrete evidence presented in the report about the correlation between Ofsted grades and the socio-economic composition of schools shows that our inspection system is not fit for purpose.

It is not surprising, but no less shocking, to read that two thirds of the teachers surveyed for this report thought that ‘inequalities between schools are becoming wider as a result of current government policy.’

A radical change of direction is required in order to develop a schools system which puts the needs and aspirations of all pupils, regardless of social background or circumstance at its heart.

The consensus of the last 30 years that market methods are the way to improve education is broken. The Government needs to act.”

ENDS 2018-068-NEU

Press release
03 July 2018