Intentions to drop the Education for All bill were hidden in a written ministerial statement from secretary of state, Justine Greening, on 27 October which focused on the introduction of the Technical and Further Education bill, saying:
"Our ambition remains that all schools should benefit from the freedom and autonomy that academy status brings. Our focus, however, is on building capacity in the system and encouraging schools to convert voluntarily.
"No changes to legislation are required for these purposes and therefore we do not require wider education legislation in this session to make progress on our ambitious education agenda."
Although the bill has been scrapped, ATL is keeping up the pressure on the Government to clarify its plans for other elements of the bill, including:
- a move to school-by-school training and accreditation, with the loss of QTS and the end of teaching as a graduate profession, leading to a wide range of standards and likely deskilling around pedagogy, child development and SEND
- the creation of school-by-school pay and conditions, possibly without a national structure to guide leaders so distracting them from the core purpose of teaching and learning, certainly with funding cuts forcing difficult decisions, and definitely the end of a recognisable career path for staff.
ATL welcomes the Government's axing of the bill, which had prompted a groundswell of opposition among parents, governors, the education profession and MPs and councillors from across the political parties. Even before the bill was dropped, the Government had backtracked on plans to force every school to academise by 2020 thanks to the campaigning of ATL members who met with and wrote to their MPs and councillors, and attended events and rallies.
Engage with colleagues, parents, governors, the press and politicians
As well as pushing for clarity on elements of the bill, ATL will continue to campaign over other the issues facing the education sector:
- enough places for learners
- recruitment and retention crisis.
ATL and AMiE members have an opportunity to build on the Education for All bill u-turn and strengthen calls for the Government to rethink its approach.
Parents want enough school places with enough qualified, competent professionals teaching their children; education professionals want properly funded schools that support, develop and remunerate their skills and expertise. Children and young people deserve an education system that provides a sustainable learning experience, cares for their mental health and well-being, and prepares them for future life.