National Education Union comments on government's social mobility plan

By agency reporter
December 15, 2017

The Secretary of State for Education has announced an action plan to boost social mobility through education. Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union commented on the plan, saying, “We agree with the Minister that schools on their own cannot counter social inequality. This much-heralded announcement, however, offers very little real in the way of meaningful action. Justine Greening is in complete denial about the overall picture for schools, with huge cuts to budgets across the board and a constant battle to recruit and retain teachers.

“It is helpful that Justine Greening has finally realised that enforced leadership change and academisation are not the answer for so called ‘coasting schools’. However, this begs the question as to why such actions are deemed appropriate for schools that are rated inadequate by Ofsted, and why the Government has pursued this line up until now. The academy programme and the system of Multi Academy Trusts is at breaking point, yet this plan will see more academy chains anointed as ‘system leaders’ and given responsibility for supporting schools in these circumstances. Apart from anything, it is counter-productive to ignore the wealth of expertise that exists in local authorities and their schools. 

“Any new money to provide high quality schools-based nursery provision is welcome, but we need full transparency and an objective audit and provision of the resources needed.  Such an audit must be unconstrained by the current inadequate funding envelope and must take account of the needs of disadvantaged children.

“Today’s measures dramatically underestimate the impact of poverty on children and families. The Government needs to address the problem of poverty and inequality at its root by reversing regressive benefit reforms and developing an industrial strategy to increase well-paid and high quality jobs. It also needs to ensure that schools and colleges are properly funded and have professional staff who are not overburdened by excessive workloads. Only then will the needs and aspirations of all children and young people be met.”

Read the government document Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential here

* National Education Union


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