Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“The White Paper fails to address the deep challenges facing education. The pandemic made clear the extent of inequality and its impact on schools. Now we face a new and more devastating crisis of poverty.    

“We need a White Paper which recognises the scale of the problems and is radical in dealing with them. The government has instead tried to extend the life of old policies, buttressed by false claims about their success.    

“Its evidence for total academisation is totally lacking. The claim that the problem of teacher workload has been solved in most schools is incredible. The government’s basic responsibility to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of teachers has not been met.    

“It has chosen not to listen to warnings from the Public Accounts Committee and the Education Policy Institute that school funding is inadequate and tilted away from schools most in need.    

“It does not engage with the emerging and creative recommendations from the profession, employers and young people that primary and secondary assessment in England must be modernised and made more inclusive.   

“It lays down a plan for a centralised system that prioritises control over support. It shows no awareness of diversity and difference. It learns nothing from the mountain of evidence about educational discrimination and fails to establish schools as safe spaces where children’s development is fostered by strong pastoral and psychological support, without coercive interventions such as those exemplified recently by the Met Police. Most of its proposals will intensify the pressures on leaders, teachers, and young people, and will particularly penalise those with SEND. It ushers in more Ofsted inspections. It imagines that ‘strong’ trusts are the only form of school group capable of generating school improvement or professional collaboration. It arbitrarily raises the targets for Year 6 and GCSEs. What teachers teach and how they teach will be placed under the heavy influence of central agencies.   

“The NEU’s campaigns will continue to point out the huge disparity between the policies that government offers and the policies that our schools need. During the pandemic the government lost the confidence of educators; the White Paper will not win it back.”

ENDS

Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

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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.