Commenting on the Education Policy Institute’s Closing the Gap report into the progress made by the Government to narrow the pupil attainment gap, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:
“The findings of this report are sadly unsurprising. Factors which are common among pupils who are falling behind their peers include child poverty, insecure housing, poor physical and mental health among families and job insecurity. These have all seen an increase as a result of the Government’s austerity programme and reforms to welfare.
“Schools are striving to do the best for every child they teach, but schools alone cannot tackle these social issues and plug the gap made by cuts to wider services and basic support on which many families rely and which help to provide children with the stability they need in order to focus on their learning and achieve at school.
“The task of schools in closing the attainment gap is made even harder when teacher supply is in crisis as a result of attacks on teachers’ pay, working conditions and professionalism.
“Our children cannot afford to wait the three generations this report predicts it will take, on current trends, to close the pupil attainment gap. We need effective action from the Government on education, health, housing and the economy to tackle the root causes of the disadvantage and poverty which are key inhibitors to educational progression.”