Education unions respond to new prime minister

Education unions have responded to the news that Boris Johnson will be the UK’s next prime minister

It has been revealed that Boris Johnson will be the next prime minister, and education unions have responded by outlining what they believe the future direction of the industry should be.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Much was made in the Conservative Party leadership election of the need for more school funding.

“Boris Johnson made it his second pledge in the TV debate. The new prime minister now needs to act to implement a programme of funding that will actually make a difference to schools and colleges and addresses the years of underfunding and ensures teachers’ pay rises are fully funded.

“Schools need more than promises on the side of a bus. Schools need real money for real children in real schools now.

“The NEU, with the f40 local authorities group, ASCL and NAHT, has published a complete assessment of the extra funding needed to reverse the cuts made in recent years.

“We are proposing an immediate increase of £3bn in order to restore half of the £5.9bn current funding loss, followed by a 3.5% real-terms increase every year for the next six years.

“The teacher recruitment and retention crisis is also a fundamental problem of the government’s own making.

“A huge driving factor, aside from schools not having the money to employ all the educational professionals they need and the reduced real terms salary levels, is workload.

“The long hours worked into the evening and weekends is made up of largely unnecessary bureaucratic accountability and assessment exercises driven by government policy and high-stakes Ofsted inspections.

“While some steps have been taken to address this, they do not go nearly far enough.

“If the new prime minister does not act effectively and swiftly on these issues the education our children and young people receive will continue to be undermined.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added:

Congratulations to Mr Johnson on his success in the Conservative party leadership contest. We wish him well as our next prime minister.

We hope he will immediately make good on his promise during the leadership campaign to reverse the education cuts.

To achieve this objective he needs to invest an additional £12.6bn by 2022/23, rather than the £4.6bn he has pledged.

Nevertheless, his commitment is a step in the right direction after years of government denial over the scale of the crisis facing the education system.

As a matter of urgency, he must provide government funding for the total cost of the pay award for teachers which was announced yesterday, so that schools are able to implement the increase without making further cuts.

The government’s expectation that schools should fund the first two per cent of the 2.75% award from budgets which have already been cut to the bone is unrealistic and damaging.

In the longer term, Mr Johnson must help to shape a brighter and more optimistic vision for education by improving support for struggling schools, easing the grinding pressure of exams and accountability, and boosting teacher recruitment and retention.

Schools and colleges do a fantastic job despite very challenging circumstances, but they need more resources and vision from the government.”

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