North Beds NASUWT

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Government presiding over elitist and regressive policies

The Coalition Government have been accused of presiding over regressive and elitist education policies which are damaging children’s education.

And the increasing marketisation seen within academies and free schools was leading to a situation where parents and their children were being selected on their ability to pay.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary issued the stark warning as she mounted a passionate and vigorous defence of state education.

Speaking to a packed fringe at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester Ms Keates condemned the removal of the requirement for pupils to be taught by qualified teachers.

And she said the NASUWT and the NUT could not stand by and allow the Coalition Government to wreck the future of children and young people.

Ms Keates spoke alongside shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg and NUT General Secretary Christine Blower.

Mr Twigg said he wanted to see excellence for all in education and the need to combine the best of academic and the best of technical education.

He said he wanted to see a “truly open” education system and criticised the fact that there were still far too few children getting into education from low income families.

Turning to the proposals for the Technical Baccalaureate he said: “All young people should do English and Maths until they are 18 and we want a skills agenda that address the challenges of the future rather than one that looks to the past.”

He said he wanted to engage with the profession, schools colleges and employers “to ensure that the alternative that we put forward to the EBacc has genuine broad support and is grounded in evidence”.

Mr Twigg said the quality of teaching was “crucial” to raising standards. He added: “You do not raise the status and the quality of the teaching profession by constantly undermining, attacking and criticising that profession.”

Turning to the industrial action campaign Ms Keates said”The NUT and ourselves represent nine out of ten teachers across all schools in England and Wales.

“We are mounting a vigorous defence of our state education service and we are engaged in industrial action.

“We are engaged in industrial action that is pupil, parent and public friendly. We have started that escalated action last week and we are attacking the things that have burdened teachers to enable them to get on with the job of teaching children.

“Children should not be feeling any disruption by what we are doing but we are certainly sending a strong message to Government.

“We have no desire to disrupt children’s education but we can’t stand by and allow this Government to wreck the future for those children and young people.”

Turning to the “savage attacks” on the education system she went on: “We have seen rights of entitlement that are fundamental rights that parents and the public would expect removed.

“For example the right to be taught by a qualified teacher has now been swept away, not just in academies and free schools but actually by a regulatory change that applies in all schools. That is quite disgraceful at a time when we want high-quality education.”

Ms Keates said schools had the freedoms to set the price of school uniforms and academies were free to charge what they liked for school meals.

“What we have got is the selection of pupils and parents on the basis of their ability to pay. I never thought we would see the day.

“We have now got young people from ordinary working families who have been denied further and higher education, there is the lost opportunity in apprenticeships, the removal of the grants to support ethnic minority achievement, we have a new definition of special needs which will leave some without support.

She added: “These are not the building blocks for an education system fit for the 21st century, these are regressive and elitist education policies.

“These are policies that are allowing privateers and marketers to turn a fast buck at the expense of our children and our young people.”

Ms Blower pointed out that just seven percent of the population were taught in private schools.

She told the fringe there was still a challenge in getting the public to recognise the “exact parallels” between what was happening in the NHS and in education.

She said: “The system that we have that is set up by the Tories, the free schools and the advancing academies programme, one of the most wicked things about it is that it will be for profit, but  also that it is creating children who are less desirable than others.

“It is schools being able to choose children and not parents being able to choose schools which is what Michael Gove would have us believe.”

She added: “Children have an absolute right in every class, in every day that they are in school to be taught by a qualified teacher.

“We have at the moment an absence of trust in the profession…it doesn’t matter many times Michael Gove says he trusts teachers, it is perfectly clear that his behaviour is very different from his language.”

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2012 by in The NASUWT and tagged , , , , , .

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