NASUWT calls on ministers to poverty proof the school day

The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has called on the Conservative Party to help poverty proof the school day and ensure that no child is denied access to educational opportunities on the basis of their parents’ ability to pay.

Speaking today at an NASUWT fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates highlighted the Union’s research showing that parents are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the rising costs of sending their children to school.

Ms Keates called on the Government to come up with a coherent policy to tackle poverty, health and housing and to ensure that charges cannot be levied for anything which is part of the national curriculum.

Also addressing the fringe meeting were: Nick Gibb, Schools Minister and Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“It has always been a fundamental principle of our great public services that they are free at the point of use.

“Unfortunately that principle, in relation to our public education service, has been compromised.

“Access to public education and important educational opportunities is now, for an increasing number of children and young people, on the basis of their parent’s ability to pay.

“The NASUWT has undertaken an annual survey of parents and carers on the costs of education since 2012.

“The evidence shows that the costs of attending some schools are now acting as a barrier to parents accessing their school of choice for their children.

“It is unacceptable that educational experiences that promote opportunity and achievement are limited by an ability to pay.

“We want to see much more clear, coherent and robust guidance for schools on charging policies.”

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

“Our vision for education is for a one nation education system where every school is a good school.

“We want every child in this country to have the standard of education that children are getting from the best schools in this country.

“We have provided £625 million through the pupil premium to schools to fund all pupils that are registered for free school meals.”

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“I wish to applaud NASUWT’s efforts to draw attention to what is happening with children in poverty.

“Child poverty is very expensive for the country, costing £21 billion a year.

“Polices that reduce child poverty and address the issues that children are experiencing are a saving not a cost and this issue need to be at the top of the agenda.”