Opinion Former Article

NUT's Parliamentary launch of 'Opening Locked Doors' for white working class young people

On Monday, 18 January, the National Union of Teachers publishes proposals for raising the achievement of white working class young people. The three main political parties are all committed to tackling the effects of disadvantage on young people's achievement, and this will be a key issue in the forthcoming election campaign.

'Opening Locked Doors' (1) is the second in a series of policy documents published by the NUT, which set out practical recommendations for raising the achievement of young people from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The first policy document, 'Born to be Great: A Charter on Promoting the Achievement of Black Caribbean Boys', was launched at the NUT's 2007 annual conference.

Both 'Opening Locked Doors' and 'Born to be Great' address head on the most neglected and powerful influence on children's achievement; that of social class.

The meeting where the document will be launched is at the House of Commons between 6 - 8pm on Monday, 18 January. It will be held in committee room 16 and chaired by Jon Cruddas MP. Please contact the NUT Press Office on 0207 380 4706 to confirm attendance.

The proposals in 'Opening Locked Doors' are the product of intensive consultation with head teachers, teachers, university researchers and the Youth Justice Board. The proposals are supported by an in-depth research report commissioned jointly by the National Union of Teachers and the National College for School Leadership from the University of Manchester; 'Successful Leadership for Promoting the Achievement of White Working Class Pupils', published in November 2008.

KEY PROPOSALS FROM 'OPENING LOCKED DOORS'

· The Government should fund a new, specific grant which covers all groups of young people in need of additional, intensive support, including white working class young people, without reducing current funding to minority ethnic groups.

· A similar grant should be available to schools in order to provide services to parents such as family conferencing and adult education.

· Local authorities should be required to maintain continuity and stability in school provision, including maintaining school sixth forms and curriculum and pastoral support when considering school reorganisations.

· Training and professional development on issues of social class should be a requirement for head teachers and classroom teachers.

· Government, local authorities and schools should reform the curriculum in order that schools can reflect the history and development of their local communities within their school curricula.

· Local authorities and schools should consider what steps are needed to encourage people from all backgrounds in local communities to apply for teaching and support staff posts.

· School governing bodies should undertake training on the relationship between social class and educational achievement.

Commenting on the launch of 'Opening Locked Doors', Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said;

"Social class has the greatest effect on educational achievement. It is still the case that how much your parents earn and the quality of their own education has the greatest influence on the achievement of their children.

"All over the country, job loss through the collapse of manufacturing has caused problems for working class communities. The NUT is determined that those communities should not be prey to the poisonous attentions of racists and far right parties.

"The Government's job is to tackle disadvantage and despair by offering practical and effective proposals to give hope to parents and their children in these communities. The NUT agrees with John Denham when he says that disadvantages caused by social class and racism need to be tackled both together.

"The NUT believes that teachers are at the forefront of raising educational aspirations and achievement. That is why we are publishing 'Opening Locked Doors'. We want to contribute to a future of hope, not hate."

END

For further details contact Caroline Cowie on 0207 380 4706 or 07879480061

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