In an open letter to Nicky Morgan, ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, says she hopes the Education Secretary will work constructively with ATL and the other education unions, and sets out the key challenges in education.
Mary Bousted says: “The greatest challenge will be the crisis in teacher recruitment. Children’s education will suffer if we do not have enough qualified, experienced teachers. Unfortunately teachers are leaving the profession in droves at a time when more children are entering the school system.”
To solve this crisis, Nicky Morgan needs to “carry out a thorough evaluation of the School Direct programme which has failed to recruit sufficient trainee teachers and failed to provide high quality teacher training” and “halt the decline in university-based teacher training”.
Mary Bousted says she is pleased Nicky Morgan has committed to continuing to challenge teachers’ workloads. “We know that excessive workload is the key reason for teachers leaving the profession.” And she urges the Education Secretary to talk to ATL “to establish ways in which we can tackle unnecessary workload and make teaching a more attractive, rewarding profession”.
She adds: “One of the key causes of increased workload has been the ever-more punitive inspection system. ATL has consistently argued that fundamental change is needed to Ofsted.” And she urges Nicky Morgan to read ATL’s proposals for a new, peer-led, supportive and rigorous inspection system.
Mary Bousted argues that entitling teachers to high quality training is the best way to provide a good education for children and young people. And she says that the “National College for Teaching and Leadership has failed in its role and remit and needs radical revision of its aims, purpose and organisation”.
On funding, Mary Bousted says she is “extremely concerned” about the impact severe budgetary constraints will have “on schools which have already been cut to the bone”.
“Above all,” she says, “teachers want to be treated as professionals, with the autonomy to determine their own work and the safe environment to try out innovative approaches to teaching.”
In a separate letter to Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Mary Bousted says “16-24 year olds are three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population”.
She warns that: “Cuts in funding for further education (FE) have left colleges reeling. Amalgamations of colleges and closure of courses have led to fewer options for young people to stay in education, and the cuts to the maintenance allowance has left many unable to travel the greater distances to access any remaining provision. Cuts have also led to the loss of professional staff.”
“Unless addressed, the crisis in FE colleges will impact on those young people who are most disadvantaged, including Black and Minority Ethnic young people who are much more likely to access FE as a way of getting back on track. I urge you to commit to protecting the budget for FE colleges.”
Mary Bousted says the investment in apprenticeships, while welcome, has focussed on increasing the number at the expense of guaranteeing their quality.
She warns that she is extremely concerned that the new end of course, timed, written exams will result in a huge increase in young people failing to achieve their potential. They will “assess only a tiny proportion of what young people have learnt and tell employers and universities little about their expertise and knowledge”.
Mary Bousted urges Sajid Javid to “work closely with the Department for Education to invest in a national, face-to-face careers guidance system that will be accessible to all young people, and particularly the most vulnerable”.
The letter to Nicky Morgan can be viewed here and the letter to Sajid Javid can be viewed here.