election 2017 education

What really matters in this election? Head teachers tell politicians the key 5 issues

The National Association of Head Teachers has set out the five priorities for political parties to include in their manifestos for the upcoming election.

NAHT’s 5 priorities are:

1. To fund education fully and fairly, reversing the £3bn real terms cuts that schools are facing and providing enough money to make the new national funding formula a success.

2. To put forward a national strategy for teacher recruitment and retention that recognises teachers as high-status professionals and guarantees enough teachers for every school.

3. To adopt fair methods to hold schools to account, recognising that test and exam results are only part of the picture when judging a pupil’s success or a school’s effectiveness.

4. To value a broad range of subjects in the school day so that pupils’ opportunities are not limited and they are properly prepared for adult life.

5. To make sure that schools are supported by health and social care services to allow schools to fulfil their role to promote pupil wellbeing rather than making up for cuts to other services. (Taken from NAHT.org.uk)

This is excellent news for education: whether the advice is invited or not, political parties could do with a bit of input from some qualified experts. Laying the issues out as five clear statements is a challenge to put education in the forefront for this election but also includes the commitment from whoever is elected to carry forward the promises into real change.

Where do the forerunning parties stand?

Voting teachers and parents of school-age children are a large cohort with significant voting power and will be observing closely which parties are willing to boldly declare their support for our country’s education system. This week, 500 head teachers wrote to Theresa May explaining the consequences of cutting £3 billion from schools’ budgets nationally via the new funding formula. “Stop seeing education as a cost and instead see it as an investment in the future… The future of our country depends upon the next generation. Their skills, their knowledge, their confidence and their creativity”, the letter in the Mirror states.

The Labour Party has also come under fire for failing to speak out about the curriculum, grammar schools, teacher retention and funding, however, a manifesto leaked on Wednesday suggests that they plan to levy university fees as part of their campaign and find £5.7bn for schools. The Green party responded that these plans were still not bold enough and that they, the Green Party, plan to bring free schools and academies back under the control of local Authorities.  The Liberal Democrats’ website states they strongly oppose the government’s plans to open more grammar schools: “Fundamentally, we also know that we cannot deliver the best education for all, when our teaching workforce is demoralised and undervalued; so we are committed to working with education professionals to tackle the workload and recruitment challenges they face.”

Whether any leaders of the main parties choose to hang their hat on the NAHT recommendations is yet to be seen. All parties’ manifestos are due to be released this coming week.

What can you do?

It’s critical that every single teacher takes the time on Thursday 8th June to get to a polling station and vote.  Isidewith.co.uk 2017 Election Quiz is one of many online tools which asks a few quick questions (including your views on education) and tells you which party you are most aligned to.

Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary points out that the NAHT’s 5 key issues are critical to voting parents and teachers: “Education is near the top of the national agenda at the moment – as it should be. Our five priorities reflect the real challenges affecting schools and young people right now. Parties hoping for the support of parents, teachers and school leaders need to have something to say on these key areas. These will underpin future success.”

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Have your say: What element of education do you think will get most teachers marching to the polls? Let us know below!

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