Opinion Former Article

NASUWT: Depressing and demoralising pre-election rhetoric denigrating our state school system

Commenting on the Conservative Party Conference session on education and on the Secretary of State for Education's speech, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said:

"It is deeply depressing and demoralising for children, young people, parents and the school workforce that the pre-election rhetoric denigrating our state school system is continuing post-election.

"Teachers will undoubtedly feel a strong sense of betrayal as a result of the distorted, inaccurate and insulting portrayal of the work they do by the school leaders who participated in the set-piece introduction to the Secretary of State's speech.

"Standards have been rising year on year. More children than ever before are achieving examination success. More young people are going on to higher education. They are doing this as a result of their own and their teachers' hard work and commitment.

"It is scurrilous to suggest that these achievements are because exams have been 'dumbed down'.

"It flies in the face of all evidence for the Secretary of State to claim that the achievement gap has not narrowed.

"The level of satisfaction amongst parents with their local school, according to Ipsos MORI, stands at 79%.

"Celebrating these achievements is not to say that there isn't a great deal more to be done. There is no room for complacency and all schools and staff recognise that fact.

"The Secretary of State's speech to the Conference consisted of repackaging his own and, indeed, some of the previous Government's policies.

"The announcement of 'new' powers for schools to discipline pupils, in his words 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere' - his Martini approach to discipline - was introduced by the last Government.

"The Secretary of State uses well superficially seductive soundbites. Freedom for schools is referred to frequently. Unfortunately, it is a claim which does not bear close scrutiny.

"The Secretary of State claims that the profession is demoralised. That being the case it is difficult to understand why over an hour of orchestrated denigration of their professionalism was therefore considered appropriate.

"The sub-text of today's debate seems to be to present the teaching profession as being in crisis, presumably to justify a planned attack on teachers and those who represent them."

ENDS

Stuart Gannon
NASUWT Press Office

Tel: 020 7420 9681
Mobile (and out of hours contact): 07966 198894
Address: 5 King Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8SD

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