NASUWT comments on the white paper

Commenting on the White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ Union, said

“The best that can be said of this White Paper is that it represents a veiled admission by the Government of the failure of its school reforms since 2010, with a raft of measures clearly intended to ensure that schools are no longer left to do their own thing.

“It is clear that the sun has set on the Government’s vision of headteachers as “captains of their ship”, to be replaced by a mantra of “supported autonomy” that will have profound implications for how schools are led and managed over the next period.

“Despite the breadth of topics covered, the White Paper fails to address some of the most pressing issues affecting schools and teachers, not least low morale, a recruitment and retention crisis, and the continuing impact of real terms erosion of teachers’ pay and cuts to school budgets.

“The White Paper also proposes to increase the layers of accountability to which schools are subject, which will do little to assuage the fears of many schools or make the jobs of teaching and school leadership any more attractive or deliverable.

“This is a White Paper which yet again focuses on futile and wasteful structural reform at the expense of ensuring that all children and young people, including pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, are guaranteed to receive the help and support they need to be able to succeed.

“Every pupil should be entitled to be taught by a qualified teacher. However, the proposal to replace the internationally recognised Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) standard with a highly discretionary system of accreditation will rightly provoke serious concerns amongst teachers, parents and the general public.

“Whilst the White Paper belatedly acknowledges that all teachers should be either accredited or on a path to accreditation, Ministers do not appear to have grasped the need to ensure that all teachers are guaranteed access to high quality teacher training and continuing professional development (CPD), which are the hallmarks of high performing education systems around the world.

“The White Paper contains a mix of policy commitments, including on matters previously announced by the Government in respect of school funding and the academisation of all schools by 2022.

“All of the proposals contained in the White Paper will need to be carefully examined and teachers will expect the Government to avoid rushing into implementation of ill-considered or poor policy ideas which will fail to deliver excellence for all pupils.”