This week it was announced that Nicky Morgan will continue in her role as Education Secretary under Cameron’s Conservative government. The former solicitor took over from Michael Gove 10 months again and has been backed to continue in the role by the Prime Minister.
Nicky, a former corporate lawyer, following in the footsteps of a long line of Education Ministers with no direct teaching of classroom experience or even a background within education.
One of the first issues Ms Morgan will need to address is the teaching workload, an issue which was brought to the education secretary’s attention by 44,000 teachers prior to the election. In response to this Ms Morgan and Mr Clegg devised a 5 point plan which aimed to lower the workload for teachers. This plan was met with an angry response by the NUT who said the plan showed a lack of action and saw it as a “missed opportunity” . The NUT proposed strike action unless progress was made on protecting the education budget, dealing with national insurance payment, pension contributions and dealing with the ever increasing workload. Ms Morgan has now stated that she will tackle the mounting teacher workload as an ‘absolute priority’, however she is yet to reveal a new plan as to how. So what issues will Nicky Morgan be faced with next?
- Money – during the election Cameron said he would protect the education budget by “ring fencing” it. We are ensured that spend per pupil will remain the same when the predicted 7% increase in pupil numbers occurs, however extra staffing costs could be a huge blow to schools budgets, something the NUT wanted rectifying.
- Workload – The Conservatives will look to implement resits, this means more pressure for pupils to pass first time?
- Pay – With pay having been frozen for year, the NUT will be putting more pressure on Ms Morgan to try and allow more career/pay progression in the teaching profession, with a recruitment crisis looming, leaving her with a battle to make the profession more attractive to graduates.
So Ms Morgan has a huge challenge ahead of her trying to gain teachers and schools respect and trust. When asked how she was planning on winning over the profession, Nicky Morgan said: “In the 10 months I was here before the election I visited many schools up and down the country, spoke to over 900 teachers, and I’m going to be doing much more of that now I’m back in position” . Yet this hasn’t filled all teachers with hope, with the majority of the teaching community stating she still has a lack of understanding when it comes to what teachers need and want.
Recently Nicky Morgan didn’t particularly make any friends in the education community when commenting that teenagers should steer clear of the arts and humanities and opt for science or maths to get the best opportunities and widest range of jobs. This statement left teachers, leaders and supporters of humanities and arts subjects questioning Ms Morgan’s intentions. However in terms of skills shortages in STEM orientated jobs and career paths, she does have a point. In 2014 the CBI found that nearly 40% of firms looking for staff with STEM skills had difficulty recruiting as the UK is lacking workers proficient in science, technology, engineering and maths.
What do you think? Is Ms Morgan the right person to rebuild the broken bridges? Or will the workload remain daunting, and the budget remained squeezed? Have your say…