Commenting ahead of the Queen’s Speech on Monday 14 October, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This Queen’s speech needs to address the issues that face schools, children and young people and their families. The Conservative Government abolished the Child Poverty Act in 2016 and got rid of the target to end child poverty by next year, despite 4.1 million children still trapped in poverty and this figure expected to rise to 5.2m by 2022. This was an irresponsible and uncaring move.
“Children growing up in poverty face additional challenges. Schools do all they can to negate the impact of poverty, but it is a simple fact that hunger, inadequate clothing, cramped, cold or damp living conditions affect children’s concentration, their well-being and educational outcomes. Legislating to protect the most vulnerable in society should be one of the most important priorities of any Government. Without such protection, millions of families and children are left with no support and face a bleak future. It is a dreadful reflection on this Government, its ministers and a political party that does not see this as a priority.
“Ofsted judgements and SATs results give narrow and in too many instances inaccurate information to parents and government about the standards of education. The additional workload and stress they generate is one of the main reasons teachers give for leaving the profession. At a time of a teacher recruitment and retention crisis this is something the Government cannot afford to ignore. Ofsted and SATs need to be replaced with a system of accountability and assessment that is supportive and professional, not punitive, and gives a true picture of the achievements of schools, colleges and learners.
“Our schools and colleges cannot offer the world class education our children and young people deserve without proper levels of funding. Government has finally conceded after years of telling headteachers there was no funding crisis, that in fact there is one. Additional money has been given but it falls way short of what is actually needed. Boris Johnson knows this and if he wants to avoid this issue becoming the vote loser it was in the last election, then he needs to ensure all schools have the funding they need now, not in dribs and drabs from next April onwards, and for it to be at levels that reflect what is needed in 2019.”