NEWS • VIEWS • INFORMATION • ADVICE
The Education Bill is huge in scope, covering almost all areas of education. Therefore, the impact on all teachers, schools leaders, parents and pupils is likely to be profound.
In addition to changes already proposed of:
• reforming the National Curriculum to introduce a ‘classical’ curriculum based on maths, English, science, a humanity and a foreign language;
• introduction of a new reading test for pupils at age six;
• making teacher training more school-based and launching a new network of teaching schools;
• reforming the Performance Management Regulations, removing the current three-hour limit on observation and other protections.
The Bill will:
• extend the powers to search pupils;
• force more ‘underachieving’ schools to become academies;
• grant the Secretary of State more powers over academy conversion and the transfer of schools’ land and property;
• encourage more free schools and free colleges;
• reform Ofsted to focus more closely on teacher performance;
• abolish the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB);
• reform performance tables to remove contextual information and GCSE equivalents;
• publish more information on schools’ performance, including teachers’ salaries and sickness records;
• scrap the Diploma programme for 14-19 year-olds;
• abolish the duty for schools to cooperate with local authorities on children’s wellbeing;
• change far educational provision.
The NASUWT position
The NASUWT has been working with all political parties since the Education Bill was announced, to seek to secure significant amendments to the plans.
The NASUWT has campaigned for the end of the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), arguing that it is wasteful and does little to add value to the profession. However, the provision in the Education Bill to transfer the powers for teacher regulation to the Secretary of State is deeply worrying. The NASUWT believes it is critical that the regulation of the profession is in the hands of an impartial, independent body.
The introduction of new powers for headteachers to prosecute and permanently exclude pupils for making false allegations is welcome and long overdue but the NASUWT is concerned this move is more about populist headline grabbing than giving real protection to teachers, as no details of how the powers will operate has been forthcoming.
The NASUWT is pressing the Government to seek changes to police procedures on false allegations to end the misery of teachers’ careers and lives being needlessly wrecked.
The NASUWT believes education should be free and available to all, regardless of the ability to pay. If the Bill goes through there will be nothing to prevent academies and free schools charging parents in future, to top up the money they receive from the DfE.
Proposals to allow unqualified teachers to teach in academies and free schools are a clear threat to the provision of qualified teacher status.
The Coalition seems to believe that being a multimillionaire businessperson, former soldier or attending a Russell Group university are all it takes to make a good teacher. The NASUWT believes that teaching is a highly skilled profession and this attack on teaching standards is designed to justify breaking up the National Framework and cutting teachers’ pay and working conditions.
The streamlining of the curriculum to focus on a narrow core of academic subjects risks undermining children’s right to a broad and balanced curriculum and denying them vital life chances. It also risks elbowing out of the curriculum other ‘non core’ subjects such as citizenship and PSHE, which provide young people with an opportunity to discuss and learn about important issues such as equality, respect and diversity, all critical in building and supporting young people’s wellbeing.
The NASUWT believes the Education Bill will fundamentally threaten the ethos of a free and fair state education system.
The championing of free schools and academies and the further erosion of the democratic link with local authorities will increase competition between schools, divert resources away from established schools and leave schools serving the most deprived catchment areas worse off.
Tacking pupil indiscipline is a key concern for the NASUWT but it believes the provisions in the Education Bill will do little to aid teachers in the classroom and could leave them more vulnerable to accusations by pupils and parents. The decision by the Coalition to abolish School Behaviour Partnerships and make schools responsible for excluded students will hamper schools’ ability to tackle poor pupil behaviour.
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