ATL comment on the Conservative Party Manifesto

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Press release
18 May 2017 by ATL Media Office
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “The Conservative Manifesto recognises the multiple crises education faces but clearly doesn’t understand the scale of action needed.

“Any increase to the schools’ budget will be welcome but unless school funding rises in proportion to increasing pupil numbers as well as in real terms, it simply won’t be enough. 2022 will be too late and budget increases need to be front-loaded to the start of the parliament to address the cuts being suffered, and to prevent even more schools increasing class sizes, reducing the curriculum, and losing great teachers. Schools are on the ropes and the next Government must do more to save them.

“ATL has called for student loan forgiveness as a tool in retaining teachers so welcomes this pledge. However, the crisis of teacher recruitment is such that this intervention will be needed for today’s teachers not just tomorrow’s. The measures promised for addressing the teacher recruitment and retention crisis are necessary but far from sufficient – and they lack either strategy or an evidence base. This Manifesto is silent on the public sector pay cap, yet it is time to commit to abolish it and properly fund the passionate and expert teachers our children need.

“The Government’s Teacher Workload Survey highlighted a serious problem in schools. Teachers will be cynical about promises to reduce unnecessary paperwork and the burden of Ofsted when similar pledges were made in the last Conservative Manifesto, and little progress was made in government.

“The Conservatives’ proposals for the EBacc measure is part of the skills problem. It greatly limits learners’ chances in the fast-changing world of emerging technologies they will enter as adults. It gives little consideration to children with special educational needs and abilities, many of whom will struggle with this narrow range of subjects. Plans for post-16 education are not based on evidence, fail to address structural issues in our labour market, and neither account properly for learner needs nor seek to take advantage of the further education workforce’s expertise. The Manifesto makes a nod to the important issue of quality apprenticeships but doesn’t provide confidence this will be a priority in the race for more and more.

“Teachers, pupils and parents are doing their best in pressured circumstances. But standards are hard to improve amidst these widespread crises. The Conservatives don’t propose the action needed on education for pupils up and down the country because they have become fixated – again – on particular types of school. These are whims at best but pose a huge risk at worst. The weight of evidence is very clearly against selective education. The answer to providing sufficient good school places is empowered local authorities with local place planning powers and responsibilities – not central Government fads that will serve a lucky few and damage education for the majority.”


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Election 2017