Wednesday, 15 March 2017 10:11

Education is literally crumbling as the Tories make lip service, again

Our PM, Theresa May said last year, that “there is no more important place to start than education”. She wants to encourage parents to look ahead to a land of promised opportunity, apparently! There is so much that hangs on the delivery of these promises of a higher priority for children's prospects – but the reality is a far cry away. Seeing, after all, is believing.

What we’re seeing is hardly leading us to believe this ‘promise’. Theresa May and her government seem intent on “waging a war on young people”. Last week, the news broke that schools are facing the worst squeeze in 20 years with cuts to funding, a reduction in teachers and class sizes set to increase. This week, the news that schools are cutting classes – arts and languages in particular – and teaching from leaking buildings with many also cutting back on support services such as those for mental health.

Is it any wonder then, at this week’s annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders, there were shouts of “disgrace” from school leaders aimed at Education Secretary Justine Greening? Not surprising really when a staggering 95 per cent of head teachers have had to cut classes and support services, including books, special needs and mental health support and IT, and two-thirds have cancelled activities such as trips and clubs.

If you’re more of the creative type, forget it. More than seven out of 10 of those whose schools teach 14-16-year-olds said they had axed GCSE or vocational courses in the past year. Almost eight out of 10 said sixth form courses had also been axed. At GCSE level, the course most commonly cut was design and technology (44%), followed by performing arts (26%), music (18%), German (18%) and art and design options (16%). At A level, design and technology was again the most common course to be cut at 41%, with music by 39% and German by 37%.

More than eight in 10 of head teachers said they have had to increase class sizes. On average, school leaders – including heads, deputies and other senior staff – said their largest class size is 33, while around one in eight said it was 35 students or more. Maybe the government needs a lesson in maths in spite of their pledges to reduce overcrowded lessons!

One head teacher is quoted as saying; “Through no fault of their own, students will have restricted subject choices, in larger class sizes with less pastoral support, whilst still being expected to perform at the highest of standards – nonsense!” Here here…

Interim general secretary, Malcolm Trobe, of The Association of School and College Leaders has said that “Unless the Government invests more in the education system, there will be a significant impact on the lives and life chances of young people.” We and many others quite agree Malcolm

Successive generations of children are being let down by a school system and government that is supposed to be there to help them move up and get on. What will lead the way toward better education is more funding, not less, where education should be a long-term investment in the country’s future prosperity. Many are likely to condemn the government again, and with valid reason.

As Lucy Powell MP, the former shadow education secretary, has said, “Ministers are failing to heed the warning from head teachers that it is a deep pool of excellent teachers and enough resources that will help them make a difference and narrow the education divide”. Yet the government has the audacity to say that school funding is at its highest ever level!

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