From education to employment

ASCL comment on new Education Secretary

Commenting on the appointment of Gavin Williamson as the new Education Secretary, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Congratulations to Gavin Williamson on his appointment as the new Secretary of State for Education. We wish him every success for the future.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing Secretary of State, Damian Hinds, for the constructive way he has worked with us during his time in office. In particular, he deserves great credit for the development of a strategy to improve teacher recruitment and retention, including more support for teachers early in their careers, which we sincerely hope will bear fruit over the coming years and ease the current situation in which schools face very serious teacher shortages.

“The incoming Secretary of State for Education must now address the funding crisis in our schools and colleges. The government has ducked this issue for far too long and its negligence in this regard has brought the education system to its knees. Class sizes have risen. Schools and colleges have had no alternative other than to cut courses, student support, clubs and activities. And many schools have had to appeal to parents for help in buying basic classroom resources.

“The new Secretary of State will find it impossible to do anything meaningful in his new role without the essential prerequisite of sufficient funding.

“He will be reliant upon the support of the new Prime Minister and Chancellor in this respect, and we would once again remind Boris Johnson that he pledged to reverse the education cuts during his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Alongside other organisations we have published analysis which shows an additional £12.6bn is needed by 2022/23 to reverse these cuts1, rather than the £4.6bn that was pledged by Mr Johnson during the leadership contest.

“Beyond the issue of funding, the new Secretary of State for Education must endeavor to put the joy back into the classroom. Schools, colleges and their students are creaking under the weight of a grinding system of tests, exams, performance tables, and Ofsted inspections. The Secretary of State must work alongside us to develop a brighter and more optimistic vision for education which is focused more on supporting our schools and colleges to deliver an excellent education for every student, and less on an obsession with the mechanics of measuring and monitoring.”

1 Coalition unveils long-term funding plan to reverse education cuts. 15 July 2019.

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