The results are in!

080515 election blog

The results are in! So what does a Conservative majority government mean for education?

Since 2010 the Conservative led coalition Government made quite a few changes to Education policies in this country. Now we look ahead to a further 5 years of Tory government and what it means for the teaching profession.

Looking back

Ask any teacher what has stood out for them in the last 5 years and words like ‘Gove’, ‘Academies’, ‘Ofsted’, and ‘Workload’ will be mentioned.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove, former Education Secretary, was not widely liked among the education community, and according to one poll (by Ipsos Mori) the former Education Secretary is by far the most unpopular politician in Parliament, with a net likeability rating of minus 32!

Introducing Academies and Free Schools

One of the most significant changes in the last 5 years was the continuation of the Labour introduced ‘academies’ with the passing of the 2010 Academies Act. This change in the law allowed for all schools to become academies, giving them the power to choose their own curriculum while remaining publically funded.

The act also saw the creation of Tory ‘free schools’, schools funded by private sector or community investment which follow the same rules as newly-created academies. In a new Conservative government this school initiative is set to continue as before, with free schools, funded by the state but run by parents, teachers or third parties outside council control, as the centre of Tory thinking on schools. The Telegraph reports that at least 500 extra free schools will be built by 2020, whilst any primary or secondary school rated as “requiring improvement” or “inadequate” by Ofsted, could potentially be given new leadership and converted to academies, affecting one in five schools and potentially over 1 million students.

Power to schools

Another significant change with the last Tory government was the implementation of the Education Act of 2011, giving teachers new controls on behaviour and greater power to schools on the searching and policing of pupils. However the Act also granted new powers to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary at the time, to intervene to close under performing schools.

Even though  last summer saw the end of the Gove era, and Nicky Morgan stepped up as the new Education Secretary, stating she would try and counter the Gove “toxic” legacy in the run up to the election. Although she has been in her position for nearly a year  there hasn’t been much noise around  Morgan, and she has ploughed on with Gove’s policies yet trying a softer approach and appearing to be more in touch with teachers.

So what does the next 5 years look like for teachers?

Workload

The most significant initiative from Nicky Morgan in the last year was giving 44,000 teachers the chance to tell her how overworked they were. In response to calls to ‘alleviate workload’ and ‘give teachers more time to focus on teaching and strip away a lot of the additional burdens’ she devised ‘an action plan’ by promising to give a year’s notice in future of any significant changes to the curriculum and qualifications. They also pledged not to make changes mid-course to qualifications. Watch this space…

Funding

The Conservatives have pledged to protect the spend per pupil, with David Cameron stating in his election speech that “The amount of money following your child into a school – that will not be cut”. He also pledged there would be no budget cuts, ensuring all schools will be properly funded. Yet when pressed later on Cameron stated that while the budget is not cut, it would not raise with inflation, representing a cut in real terms.

Slightly better news in regards to teaching salaries, Nicky Morgan, has signed off a pay rise of 1% for state school teachers in England and Wales for the coming year – with a 2% increase for more experienced teachers to head off a growing recruitment crisis in schools.

Training and qualifications

For the next generation of teachers, The Guardian reports that Nicky Morgan is to back a new independent College of Teaching, to place teaching on an equal footing with high-status professions like law and medicine.

School standards and results

Not only are the Tories looking to clamp down on school performance, but also the performance of pupils, with a zero tolerance for failure. This will mean all children by year 6 will have mastered the basics of reading, writing and maths or will face re-testing. Nicky Morgan, is drawing up proposals to reform the teaching of English and Maths in state schools so that every child masters the essential skills of the “three Rs”.

Other key Conservative education policies

  • Every 11-year-old must know their times tables and be able to do long division.
  • Children who fail to reach level 4 in their SATs in year 6 will resit at secondary school.
  • The “EBacc” subjects (English, maths, science, a foreign language and either history or geography) will be compulsory.
  • At least 500 more new free schools will be created by 2020.
  • All good schools, including grammar schools, may expand.
  • All schools judged to be failing or coasting will become academies.
  • A real-terms increase in the schools budget in the next parliament.
  • An extra 17,500 maths and physics teachers trained in the next five years.
  • The creation of 3 million new apprenticeships.

Do you think the new government will live up to pre-election pledges? Do you think the 1% pay increase is enough to solve the recruitment crisis? Have your say…

 

16 thoughts on “The results are in!

  1. “The Prisoner” TV series from the ’60’s shouted loudly “I am a NAME, not a number”. My students are all NAMES, why is it that teachers are all treated as numbers?

    I see little improvement coming in the next 5 years only more grief in the form of real term budget cuts, political hysterics, obfuscation and an increased workload.

  2. I retired in 2002 after a primary teaching career which included 28 years as a headteacher. Amongst all those retired teachers with whom I am still in touch I have yet to find any who have regretted retiring or who miss being a teacher. There are, however, several (including me) who regularly have dreams/nightmares about being back in school! When I started my career the “project” was the preferred method of covering several linked subjects and I read recently that there is a move to bring projects back. I calculate that the cycle in teaching is about 50 years. Plus ca change!

  3. You do not mention 16-19 education, which has suffered a near 20% cut in the last 5 years and Cameron has not mentioned ‘protection’ of any kind for this sector, so again young people and their teachers will be hit with more redundancies, larger class sizes and unsustainable workloads.

  4. It’s ok to train more physics & maths teachers, but (as a recently qualified teacher, with a young family & previous career) who is making sure those teachers are in the right parts of the country AND stay in the profession? And HOW do they plan to ensure that?

    Pay (certainly for an NQT) is appaling compared to non-teaching jobs that could be done by a physics or maths (or similar) graduate. Workload is horrendous (compared to, etc.). Hours of work are incompatible with home life… Expectations are crazy. All pupils MUST make at least average progress (2 levels per year), but higher-ability pupils should make more progress. Most maths & physics graduates (not to mention most people who’ve got GCSE (or equivalent) maths will spot that average is not the same as minimum. If HA kids make more than average progress, LA will make less than average progress, by definition… That isn’t to say we should try our best for those kids, but we should be allowed to fail on our ambitions occasionally.

  5. I am sure that the aims are laudable that every child should succeed. The new curriculum has been imposed and no one really knows why the amount of facts children need to know by a certain age is actually in line with child development. All the government says is that they will have zero tolerance of failure. Seems to me that the blame will fall entirely on the teachers with no account of anything children or parents fail to do to help in the education of themselves or their offspring.

  6. students will continue to pass or fail despite what we do rather than because of it…..and life will go on……

  7. Where are they going to get 17500 maths and physics teachers from? As a maths graduate, teaching wasn’t a lucrative option, but 11 years on, I’m still teaching because I love it…also the salary I’m on now is good for the area in which I live. But what would attract a maths/physics graduate to a teachers starting salary? I studied 2 languages at school, but it is unrealistic expecting ALL students to study a language. It is unfair, especially on weaker students who struggle to read and write English!

  8. And they wonder why there is a retention problem in teaching!! Children are not inanimate objects, you can’t add to them and re design them!. Many children where ever they live are living with “baggage” which effects how & when they learn. Those who can’t achieve Level 4 in year 6 usually have a very good reason, which can be put down to a disability that is seen/ un seen , medical or emotional ,they will not achieve at the same rate as the rest of their peers and the government are failing to recognise this! re-sitting the Year 6 SATS will only make many feel worse than they do because they know that couldn’t achieve the level in Year 6 . It will do nothing for their attitude to learning or willingness to engage in Education now or in the future

  9. There is a shortage of people who want to be teachers now. How will a zero tolerance of failure encourage anyone to become a teacher. Whis failure will they not tolerate? The child for not learning, the parents for not creating the right environn.ment at home, or will it be the teachers again.

  10. More understanding of the issues facing teachers is needed. Society as a whole has to own education. “Own” not just in terms of blame, the rhetoric of fear, accountability and performance, but by being prepared to face together the many challenges that teachers face every day. If positive change is to occur we need to see success in terms of helpful relationships, respect and co-operative action rather than safely making critical comment from a distance. Examination results and progress will follow. Important stakeholders such as parents and guardians need to play a part in modelling good, responsible behaviours and expectations. Therefore, the attitudes associated with the rights of entitlement need to be balanced by responsibility and the upholding of positive values. It is a futile, wasteful and destructive enterprise to place all ills at the doors of teachers and demand that they spin straw into gold.

  11. How will retesting children who don’t make the grade at primary school help? What happens if they still can’t pass?

  12. Hear Hear to the comments form Lucy, Mark and John! I wish Nicky Morgan could be asked to respond.

  13. As usual those in power just don’t understand that some children have real learning difficulties. We should be left to do our jobs. I firmly believe there is a job out there for everyone. We need to equip students with the skills for life. If that means communicating through using speach and language as opposed to writing so be it. Being able to talk to a wide range of people will be of more use than remembering to use a comma.

    Don’t get me wrong I value the core subjects but there is so much more to education than the snapshots in the media.

    I am horrified that the label ‘Academy ‘ will be attached to schools deemed failing. This will condemn thousands of successful students for years. Like the Secondary schools of the 70’s.

  14. Hello,

    When is something going to be done about OFSTED?
    OFSTED was created some 20 years ago and the nation has spent millions of pounds on them achieving disaster with declining educational achievement. Britain has dropped from being in the top 5 to 20something in Europe.
    OFSTED has caused thousands of perfectly able teachers to leave the profession, caused thousands to suffer nervous breakdown or ill health, divorce and, even to commit suicide.
    They have become unaccountable and continue with their inhuman, heartless bullying in insisting on unrealistic targets.

  15. Don’t think the dfe come onto this site, they like to lurr themselves …. Facing truth and reality takes guts, bullies only know how to bully !

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