Labour’s education plans positive step in the right direction

 In an interview with the BBC, Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson announced that a Labour government would:

  • give £2,400 to early career teachers in England to try to stop them leaving the profession;
  • make it compulsory for new teachers to have a formal teaching qualification or be working towards one (a requirement scrapped by the Coalition government in 2012); and
  • reduce payments to teaching agencies, in response to analysis by the party that found state schools in England have paid recruitment agencies more than £8 billion since 2010.

We look forward to the full details of Labour’s plan for education, so that we can assess their potential to address the many challenges facing the sector, but a promise of a £2,400 bonus for newly qualified teachers who choose to stay in post suggests that they are serious about addressing some of the recruitment issues that afflict the sector at the moment.

Over the past year, we have been calling for an action plan to resolve the issues of underfunding and heavy workloads in our schools, colleges and early years settings.

We don’t want schools to have to choose whether they can afford to pass on nationally agreed pay awards – these must be fully funded.

We want qualified and experienced staff for all of our children, and need to see action on supporting and retaining the excellence that we have. Labour’s commitment for our children to be taught by qualified teachers is the right move – if they can be recruited and retained.

But above all else, we need to see an end to high workload and the excessive accountability regime that further drives workload across the country – from Ofsted and government initiatives right down to the policies in each school.  And we have called for an increase in planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time to 20% to seek to address this.

In short, we need action on pay and action on workload at the heart of any solution before the sector will see any signs of recovery.

We are pleased that a Labour government would prioritise education, “respecting and valuing” the profession, but we will be looking for them to go much further to rejuvenate and restore the sector.

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