From education to employment

Bridget Phillipson’s Letter to the Education Workforce – Sector Reaction

Bridget Phillipson Voices

Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson has written a letter to the education workforces to make clear the valuable role they will play in the government’s agenda for change.

“To all working in early years, children’s services, schools, further and higher education,

It’s a huge privilege to write to you today to introduce myself as your new Secretary of State for Education and to thank you for your vital work. I want this moment to mark a reset in our relationship: under this new government, education will once again be at the heart of change and the forefront of national life. I can’t wait to start working together with you as we begin to transform our system so that young people get the skills, care and opportunities they deserve.

I know how hard you work to support our learners and families; you are key to breaking down barriers to opportunity and improving life chances for every child. You have supported our children and young people through a great deal of disruption – guiding their curiosity, building their resilience, and helping them achieve and thrive. You and your work are essential to the change this government wants to achieve across the country, and I want our renewed relationship to reflect that.

My commitment to the sector is deeply personal. I grew up in a family that knew the value of a good education. I was also fortunate enough to go to great local state schools filled with committed staff who saw the value and worth in each and every one of us. I’m so grateful for all the people in my life who nurtured within me a love of learning and the confidence to succeed – I would not be here without them.

I know that I was very lucky, but life shouldn’t come down to luck. Lives are shaped by opportunity, but too many people simply don’t have the opportunities to succeed.

I grew up on a council street in the Northeast of England. At that time in the 1980s and early ‘90s, it was a place with many challenges, where far too many children were held back by their background. But background should be no barrier to getting on.

I am determined that we will drive change together. Working with all of you, we want to build a fairer society with a government that delivers the best life chances for every child. That’s what motivates me and that’s why we will work tirelessly to deliver on our opportunity mission, tackling barriers like inadequate housing and child poverty that undermine family security and make it so hard for children to learn.

There’s a lot of work to be done to realise this mission against some major challenges. A huge part of my role is to understand the scale of the challenges you are facing, and the support needed to fix them. The scar of child poverty, severe financial pressures squeezing all your budgets, high workload, climbing vacancy rates, strain on care, mental health and SEND services, among many other issues, have made your jobs increasingly difficult. This is a tough inheritance – none of these have quick and easy solutions but I will work with and for you to find practical ways forward.

Supported by your experience and expertise, this government will expand our early years education system, drive high and rising standards and reform curriculum and assessment. Work to recruit 6,500 new expert teachers for our schools and colleges starts now, and we will bring forward a comprehensive strategy for post‐16 education, work with local government to provide loving, secure homes for children in care, provide support for children with SEND and their families, and create higher-quality training and employment paths by empowering local communities to develop the skills people need. We will secure the future of our world class universities as engines of growth, ambition and opportunity for all.

This change is simple to describe, but vast to deliver. Government can’t do it alone – we will work with you as essential and valued partners to deliver our shared mission. I want to renew the trust and respect we hold for each other. My commitment to you is to listen, to draw on your wealth of experience and to act on your honest feedback.

As an initial step, I want to invite you to join me for a live event at 4pm on Tuesday 16th July where I’ll share more about my vision for the education system, but I really want to hear from you too. There will be a chance for you to share your views and ask me questions in the live chat function.

I very much look forward to meeting as many of you as possible and working together to break down barriers to opportunity, give all children the best life chances and make sure there is no ceiling on the ambitions of our young people.

Yours sincerely,

Bridget Phillipson

Sector Reaction

Pepe Di’Iasio, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We welcome the letter from the newly appointed Secretary of State for Education, and her commitment to prioritise education as a cornerstone of national progress.

“We share her desire for a reset in the relationship between the government and the education sector. The past few years have been marked by too much division and discord. Leaders and teachers have too often felt unsupported and have been on the receiving end of poorly conceived policies with cursory consultation.

“A collaborative approach between the Department for Education and unions and professional associations like ASCL is crucial to navigating the myriad challenges facing the education system and the nation.

“We appreciate the Secretary of State’s recognition of the immense challenges faced by our members, including financial pressures, workload issues, and the need for increased support in areas such as special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Her commitment to addressing these challenges and her emphasis on building a fairer society resonates deeply with our mission to ensure every child has access to quality education.

“We recognise that none of these problems have quick and easy solutions. Nevertheless, those solutions must be found.

“Adequate funding remains a critical concern for schools and colleges across the country. We urge the Secretary of State to prioritise securing increased and sustainable funding that reflects the needs of our educational institutions.

“Likewise, the recruitment and retention of quality teachers is fundamental to the success of our education system. We fully support the new government’s initial intention to recruit 6,500 new teachers and we recommend implementing policies that enhance professional development, offer competitive salaries, and improve working conditions to ensure that teaching remains an attractive and sustainable profession.

“There is an urgent need to address the crisis in the SEND system. Many schools are struggling to provide adequate support due to insufficient funding, staffing shortages, and complex bureaucratic processes. Early intervention is crucial in addressing the needs of students with SEND, as it can significantly improve their educational outcomes and overall development.

“We urge the Secretary of State to prioritise reforms that ensure timely assessments, appropriate funding, and the necessary resources to meet the needs of all students with SEND, ensuring they receive the quality education they deserve.

“We look forward to establishing a positive and productive relationship with the Secretary of State. Together, we can create an education system that not only meets the needs of today but also prepares for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.”

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