The National Education Union (NEU) is today launching its Value Education, Value Educators campaign.

The pandemic has proved just how valuable schools are to children, young people, and society.

During the last year, education staff have created innovative ways to support learning, keep students connected and nurture those who need extra care.

The pandemic has caused huge damage to children and young people's learning. The costs of Covid-19 have been borne by schools and colleges, class sizes are ever increasing, child poverty is on the rise and our curriculum and assessment systems are not meeting children's needs.

The Prime Minister has emphasised the importance of education and, coming out of Covid-19, the need to ensure no child is left behind.

But he now needs to turn words into action. 

The NEU Value Education, Value Educators campaign lays out the areas of concern that need to be addressed.

  • To value education, the Government needs to increase funding and invest in recovery. The costs of Covid-19 have been borne by our schools and colleges. The amount pledged by Government to compensate for lost learning amounts to just £310 per pupil. Other countries are spending far more – the US £1,830 per young person and £2,090 in the Netherlands.  
  • To value education, we need to end child poverty. 4.3 million children live in poverty in the UK – that’s 31 per cent of children, or nine in every class of 30.  Child poverty destroys children’s potential. An estimated nine per cent of UK families do not have a laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Two million households don’t have access to the internet.  Forty per cent of the education attainment gap is set in stone before children even start school. And 70 per cent of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works. 
  • To value education, high-stakes testing should be replaced with assessments fit for the future.  The English education system tops international league tables for the number of tests pupils take. Children entering education in 2021 will be young adults in 2033. Schools can prepare them for jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies that have not yet been invented.  To achieve these goals, our curriculum and assessment system must give children experience of making and doing as well as reading and writing. They need more teaching and less testing.

The pandemic demands that we re-examine what matters, and what makes a difference to young people’s learning and life chances. And our campaign aims to shape the education system in the best interests of our communities and the pupils we serve. 

Please sign up to our campaign at www.valueeducation.org.uk

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"Ensuring schools and colleges have the funding and support to address historically high-class sizes and underfunding and the further issues that have arisen through the pandemic is essential.

Spending on education should be seen as an investment in our country’s future. After the disruption and distress of the past 18 months, families and school staff do not want sticking plaster solutions. 

We need to see effective, well-funded proposals put in place by Government. Most children and young people have one chance at education, and they must be given all that they need to succeed."

 ENDS 

2021-164-NEU