Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

"It is disappointing that the Government is not taking a holistic approach to education post-Covid. Instead, it is burying its head in the sand about the level of disruption experienced by young people during the pandemic. The coercive effect of new, higher attainment targets in the Schools White Paper will inevitably be a rise in exclusions. 

"Even before Covid the number of students that were excluded was high and there is no national strategy on the race and social class inequalities. This is an indictment of national policies on the curriculum and assessment, approaches which label and demotivate students, and on educational under-funding. 

“Educational quality and outcomes for students are not improved by setting new targets on academic attainment. Raising expectations to a level where many students are feeling like failures is self-defeating for young people, erodes confidence and wastes skills. Reducing exclusions requires a joined-up effort across lots of DFE policy and it's about much more than behaviour policies. Funding for early intervention is essential. 

“To enable teachers to support pupils after Covid we need small classes, more teachers and more small group work and to adjust the curriculum content. Tutoring on its own won't be a significant enough intervention to plug gaps in understanding, and to achieve the trusting relationships needed for young people at risk of exclusion. 

"Teachers and support staff are deeply worried about the lack of access to mental health interventions whereby young people often have to be suicidal before they can be seen by specialists. Teachers are also calling for a more diverse curriculum offer for students.” 


Note to editors

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  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.