Commenting on the Schools and Higher Education Bills in the Queen’s Speech (10 May 2022), Helen Osgood, National Officer for Education and Early Years, said:
“The Schools Bill tinkers round the edges – legislating for things that most schools already do, and focusing on organisations and structures.
“It largely avoids the real issues – underfunding, educational recovery from COVID, support for mental health and wellbeing, staff shortages, pay and conditions and workload, and how we fund, deliver and assess the whole curriculum.
“Once again, the early years – vital to children’s education and development journey, and desperate for more support and funding – have been overlooked and ignored. This was a missed opportunity to tackle the funding and recruitment crises.
“While we welcome the closure of the safeguarding loophole on unregistered schools, we are concerned that the register of home education could lead to more of the narrow regulation and restriction of the curriculum that motivates many parents to home educate their children in the first place.
“The ‘levelling up’ agenda means there is money going into Education Improvement Areas, but we have yet to see any evidence that this will improve standards for pupils or working conditions for staff.
“The Higher Education Bill, while rightly focusing on lifelong learning, risks saddling students with a lifetime of debt to add to the cost-of-living burdens.”