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Mon, 26 October 2020

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ATL welcomes Labour's education manifesto but some issues remain unaddressed

ATL | Association of Teachers and Lecturers

3 min read Partner content

Adrian Prandle, Director of Economic Strategy and Negotiations of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers comments on the Labour manifesto

Commenting on the announcement of Labour's education manifesto, Adrian Prandle, Director of Economic Strategy and Negotiations of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

"Labour has identified some of the key problems affecting children and teachers that have resulted from education and economic policy over the last five years. The party's education manifesto has some proposals that will help but fails to address some major issues.

"Parents will be disappointed that Labour has not outlined any policy for the 1.5 million children and young people with special educational needs. For this 18% of the school age children Labour appears not to have 'A Better Plan For Education'. Teachers will be dismayed that Labour does not properly say how it will change inspection to prevent it from causing high volumes of unnecessary paperwork that distracts from the classroom and limits innovative teaching and learning.

"The big vision needed for education is a transformation from competition to collaboration - between teachers, schools, parents and pupils and, where relevant, employers and the wider community too.

"Labour's pledge to protect education funding in real terms is a vitally important first step for children and young people but they should not underestimate the complexities of this responsibility.

"Labour's plans to provide independent face-to-face careers, advice and guidance to all students studying at school or college are much-needed - the current system simply is not working. The careers support the Coalition government so disastrously dismantled needs to be rebuilt so that we have a network of careers professionals in schools, excellent CPD provision for teachers and strong partnerships between schools, colleges, employers and other stakeholders.

"With demand for school places increasing, it is right to halt the coalition's free school experiment which has pulled scarce resources away from places of need. This is becoming increasingly pressing given the crisis of teacher recruitment and retention the new secretary of state will face. The government must ensure that teaching is an attractive profession to enter.

"We are delighted that Labour is committed to teachers being qualified; those teaching our children and young people should have a professional qualification awarded by an institution which is focused on giving trainees the broadest preparation for a career in teaching. ATL also welcomes Labour's proposals to create a 'master teacher' status. These recognise that teaching is a complex, highly skilled and very demanding profession and that effective teaching is the core to raising educational standards, particularly amongst the most disadvantaged children.

"Labour's requirement for teachers to update their skills and knowledge on a rolling basis to remain qualified must take on board that 74% of teachers told a recent Coalition consultation that lack of time and pressures of workload are hindering them from accessing high-quality CPD. To build skills, teachers need time to reflect and try things out, something the punitive and heavy nature of our current accountability system discourages.

"While an emphasis on a gold-standards vocational route might be welcome, this will require clarity about what additional funding and high-quality apprenticeships should offer. The Coalition government has already made drastic cuts to the FE and skills sector, so maintaining current budgets will not be sufficient."


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