Next Labour government will give teachers 'hope', says shadow schools minister

Posted On: 
23rd September 2019

The next Labour government will "trust" teachers in a bid to boost morale and improve retention rates, shadow schools minister Mike Kane has said.

Mike Kane said his party were committed to ending "toxic testing".
Credit: 
PA

The shadow Labour minister said his party would bring an end to "toxic testing" and ensure teachers had proper qualifications in a bid to bring "hope" back to the profession.

Speaking at a NASUWT fringe event at the Labour Party conference, Mr Kane said Conservative cuts to university budgets and training courses had led to an influx of unqualified teachers entering schools.

"Far too many teachers in our system are absolutely unqualified. It isn't a profession, it is becoming more of a trade which you learn on the job," he said.

"The recruitment and retention crisis that is gripping the profession is also partly due to budget crisis that we see in our schools, particularly since 2015.

"I think straight out the gate, a new Labour government would actually trust the profession and in that first instance I think that would generate an awful lot of hope."

Meanwhile, speaking after his party announced their plans to scrap Ofsted, the Wythenshawe and Sale East MP said forcing teachers to "teach to the test" coupled with a litany of legislation had resulted in plummeting morale.

He said: "It [Ofsted] has not been fit for purpose. We have schools that have not been inspected for 10 years... 

"I would love to ban those banners that float outside of schools that say: 'This school is good'. It tells you absolutely nothing about the quality of the teaching and the learning."

"SCANDALOUS"

His comments came after NASUWT Deputy General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said a decade of undervaluing teachers had led to a "scandalous" retention crisis.

"We need a government that values teachers. Since 2010, to be blunt, we have not had a government that values teachers," he said. "We need a government that is prepared to put teacher policy at the center of its education policy agenda.

"And we need a government that is prepared to put teacher's voices at the center of education policy making and education policy development. 

He added: "Teaching is facing its greatest challenge in a generation. We are in the midst, in the depths, you could argue, of a retention crisis. You are seeing teacher training courses running at certainly less than full capacity."

"Graduates are simply not choosing to teach. We have two-thirds of serving teachers saying that they are seriously considering quitting teaching altogether, and that is a pretty scandalous situation that we find ourselves in.

"One of the things that we have to do as a trade union is to speak truth to power, our members expect nothing less...

"We regularly meet with ministers where we say: 'You are in a hole, a pretty deep hole as far as education is concerned. So please will you stop digging?'

"But it seems ministers are not taking the hint, they are not getting the message and they continue to dig."

"SUPPORT"

Instead, he said ministers should place a renewed focus on "respecting and valuing teachers" as well as regulating workloads to "let teachers teach".

And he hit out at the current qualification system, saying in some instances teachers only had a single GCSE in the subject area they were responsible for.

It had led, he added, to a culture where "as long as your are one-page ahead in the textbook of the pupils that you are teaching then that is good enough."

"Well it is not good enough for us, and it is not good enough for parents and carers the length and breadth of the country."

Concluding the event, NASUWT President Dave Kitchen said that over 1,000,000 teachers currently working in schools around the country needed more support if they were to stay in the role.

He said: "An NAS President in the 1930s, at an annual conference, came up with a quote. He said: 'The government want a Rolls Royce education system for the price of a second hand Ford.'

"Now I've got nothing against Ford cars but it was that sentiment that he was trying to get get over. It is that kind of support we need if we are going to keep teachers in the classroom."