Commenting on the shadow education secretary’s speech at the Labour Party Conference, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Labour politicians are recognising that a re-set between the teaching profession and Government is required - and that very little of national Government ambitions can be achieved without working with, and in partnership, with teachers.
"It should go without saying that programmes of educational improvement should recognise and support teachers' expertise and build on the successes of the teaching profession. We welcome the focus today about the importance of early education and getting good foundations for young children. But this will require grappling with the funding issues and putting nursery schools on a sure footing. Numeracy skills are really important skills for life and it makes more sense to focus on numeracy skills in primary.
"We recommend that Labour's promised review of curriculum and assessment should be rounded and forward looking, rather than a series of subject-by-subject attempts at reform. The NEU hopes to see Labour setting out the goals for its review and to be part of sector-wide discussion of them.
"Looking to support and extend Further Education colleges, often over-looked, is sensible. Labour seem genuinely determined to deliver on the skills challenge, which will need local government working alongside local employers to meet the demand for improved skills training. A review of the national curriculum and what is assessed could achieve the much-needed rebalancing between skills, competencies and knowledge.
“Any new administration is going to need the right mix of qualifications and motivating pathways at 14-19 to give opportunities to all students, including those with SEND and those eligible for pupil premium.
“What is abundantly clear is that to maintain educational quality or get a step-change on pupil attendance and well-being will need adequate funding. High and rising standards will need more teachers and more time for teachers to focus on the core responsibilities of teaching and strong relationships with students. Current surveys show individual pupil needs is the top trend contributing to the work intensity of teachers. The recruitment and retention challenge simply must be solved - and this means making teaching, and the leading of schools in these times much more attractive. We had hoped to hear more today on a medium-term plan to restore pay to competitive levels and to work our way back towards the OECD target of 5% of GDP spent on education ”