Commenting on the release of the Labour manifesto for the General Election, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This manifesto shows that Labour understands the serious problems facing education and facing children. Their promises include credible plans to relieve the heavy pressures on staff and to lift children out of poverty. Children only get one chance at education. The National Education Union welcomes Labour’s fresh vision for an education system that puts children first and foremost.
“The NEU asked each party to value education and make pledges on funding and the Labour party has met our tests on funding. We think the promise to stop the cuts and instead to invest in education will command voter support because parents want qualified and specialist teachers, value teaching assistants, worry about increasing class size, and expect high quality support if their child has special educational needs and disabilities.
“Teachers will be relieved to hear that the education funding pledges in the Labour manifesto match the demands of the School Cuts coalition. Our analysis of the Labour announcement shows that Labour will reverse the cuts but also, importantly, deal with the historic underfunding in many areas of this country. This is evidence-based funding which will mean more children reach their potential. Labour are in touch with real families’ daily concerns and the ways in which education cuts have harmed children. We welcome the £900 million for free school meals in primary which would address child hunger and support children to eat healthy food for lunch.
“The NEU is excited to see the value placed on child wellbeing, through the commitments on much more child mental health support and measures to tackle poverty and improve families’ living standards.
“Labour’s proposals can make the job of teaching more manageable and fulfilling by removing the discredited and divisive inspection system. These plans signal a different approach – one that promises to give teachers the conditions they need to be able to help every child meet their potential. The NEU welcomes the break with the misguided political mantra of competition and academisation. A national education service based on inclusion, co-operation and integrated services will improve outcomes for children and reduce the inequality gaps.
“Labour are showing courage in challenging the takeover of community schools by unaccountable academy providers. The break-up of the education service has produced record numbers of children and young people suffering from stress and with unmet mental health needs.
“Teachers will welcome the forward-thinking proposals to replace Ofsted with an intelligent accountability system, one which offers support to schools instead of labels.
“Education for England’s primary children is among the most test-dominated in the world and brings with it unacceptable levels of stress and unhappiness. Ending primary national testing will boost engagement for young children, help teachers address individual needs flexibly and ensure primary children acquire a love of learning and the skills to thrive in secondary.
“Labour’s manifesto demonstrates an understanding that schools alone cannot counter the drastic and long-lasting impacts of poverty and class inequality in wider society. We welcome Labour’s proposals to end child poverty, tackle the housing crisis, create good, well-paid and sustainable jobs, and kick-start the economy. The exciting announcement to boost support for school uniform costs would immediately help children escape the shame caused by poverty. The £175 million for arts pupil premium would help use the power of creative subjects to change children’s lives and provide a wider range of cultural opportunities to more children.
“We don’t tell people who to vote for, but the NEU is asking each and every voter to think carefully about education when casting their vote.’’