This budget does nothing to make it easier to trust government on education

Blog
16 March 2016 by Mary Bousted
In a weakening global economy, people will rightly ask how the British government is providing opportunity for them. A high quality education system benefits everyone.

But just because government ministers believe academies automatically improve education does not mean they actually do: the evidence base is mixed at best.

So young people will ask how changing the sign above the door will ensure their school develops the skills they need in future life and work.

Parents will ask how fiddling with structures helps ensure there are enough qualified teachers to teach their children and enough school places available in the local area.

Teachers will ask how government will support ‘academies’ to address the serious issue of children’s mental health, which ministers’ schools policies have exacerbated.

And taxpayers will want to know money that would have been spent on school books and buildings isn’t going into the pockets of chief executives earning hundreds of thousands a year and consultants with close relationships to academy chains.

Everyone will want to know how the government and their academies will create opportunity to have a say on the running of their local schools which will be controlled by company offices elsewhere in the country.

We support new education funding if it helps teachers teach and learners learn. Extending the school day at a time when government itself acknowledges a serious teacher workload problem won’t improve learning if exhausted teachers on diminishing pay have not just an extra hour to teach but to somehow fit in lesson planning, marking, assessment and data analysis for that extra lesson. Like spending money on academising schools, it offers no guarantees on the quality of education provided.

ATL looks forward to playing a key role in Sir Nick Weller’s  work on school improvement in the north. When the chancellor draws a contrast with London he should be reminded that the London Challenge which pre-empted improved education outcomes in the capital was built upon schools collaborating together, not competing as Academies do, often isolated from the local community of schools.

ATL’s view of what makes for a ‘fair’ funding formula for schools is somewhat different to government’s. Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. We know deprivation limits educational outcomes so instead the new formula must ensure schools in disadvantaged areas that need help are the best funded to help make a real difference to lives and give all young people a fair chance in education and beyond.

Given the Department for Education’s academies and free schools budget is tarnished by its disorganisation and unreliability, and the chief inspector finding some chains of academies performing in line with the weakest local authorities, this budget does nothing to make it easier to trust government on schools funding and its intentions for young people’s education.

Tagged with: 
Educational reform

Comments

If we do not STOP and take a stand NOW, there will be no going back and it is the children and their mental health that will suffer most. I am a Year Two teacher becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of action regarding the outrageous new testing arrangements. If we as a profession just continue to grumble in the staff rooms about this ideologically wrong approach we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Why are the unions not listening to us?

Hi Emma,
We do listen to our members - it is our members who set the goals and objectives of ATL. Along with the other unions and education stakeholders, ATL members fought very hard with MPs and the Lords to limit the impact of the Education & Adoption Bill (see www.atl.org.uk/edubill), but the amendments were defeated.
Following yesterdays' announcement on academies, we expect there will be a greater groundswell of objection from parents and from communities and this fight will continue.
Our annual conference takes place in two weeks time, and here members can debate what action they are prepared to take to protect themselves and their schools - as well as a whole host of other policy issues facing the education sector.

How about we get onboard with the NUT and ballot for strike action! I feel quite helpless and want to be part of a teaching community who drew a line in the sand.

I completely agree with Steve and believe we should ballot for strike action like NUT, we need to stand up for ourselves and get our voices heard.