ATL comment on postcode inequality of education in England and Wales
Commenting on the new cross-party commission to tackle inequality in education in England and Wales, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
“We fully support Nick Clegg’s aims of improving education for all children in the country.
“Teachers can and do make a difference to children’s prospects, but education alone cannot solve the disadvantages experienced by children living in poverty. If government persists with policies which damage families' prospects, housing, communities and economic futures more children will be disadvantaged.
“But schools cannot help lift children out of disadvantage unless the government tackles the current teacher and headteacher shortage. The government urgently needs to attract good graduates into teaching and do more to encourage teachers to stay in the profession by helping to cut their workload and paying them a competitive graduate salary.
“We firmly believe there should be national pay and conditions for teachers. Paying teachers more to work in poor areas would not necessarily achieve the aim of raising standards and would force schools to compete for the best teachers, which would disadvantage struggling or less prestigious schools and their pupils particularly hard when there is a shortage of teachers.
“There will need to be changes to the current inspection and appraisal regime if teachers are to be supported to work in challenging schools.
“The effectiveness of the government's new schools funding formula will depend upon how schools in deprived areas are funded and particularly the protection offered to schools which will get less funding. The government needs to make sure any new funding system protects and supports the most disadvantaged children.
“If the Commission is really interested in addressing educational inequality it should also support further education because a high proportion of the 63% of 16-18 year olds (in the UK) who study in FE colleges come from disadvantaged backgrounds, ethnic minority groups, or have disabilities and special educational needs.”