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Miliband to issue 'call to arms' to bring back former teachers

Ed Miliband is to issue a “call to arms” to bring back the “best” of the 200,000 teachers who have left the profession in a bid to address the looming teacher recruitment crisis.

In a wide-ranging speech on education later today, the Labour leader will highlight the fact that 50,000 “experienced” teachers have left the workforce in the past year, an increase of 25 per cent on the 2010 figure.

And he will call on former teachers to reconsider their reasons for leaving and come back into the state sector to address the growing problem of teacher shortages.

Just 12 weeks ahead of the general election, Mr Miliband's will also announce that each region will be set a new “standards challenge”, modelled on the previous Labour government’s London Challenge, which will aim to raise attainment among the country’s most underperforming schools.

A Labour government would also:

• Cap infant class sizes at 30;
• Introduce compulsory work experience for 14- to 16-year-olds;
• Lower the voting age to 16;
• Bring in compulsory age-appropriate sex and relationship education in schools;
• And guarantee two hours of organised sport a week.

“My vision for education is shaped by my belief in equal opportunity, built for the modern world,” Mr Miliband will say. “It is based on the idea that education gives people a passport to a good life. A means not just of learning but of earning a decent living, transcending circumstance, understanding how to be part of a community and venturing into new worlds.”

Mr Miliband is expected to say that while 50,000 teachers have left the profession in the past year, the number of unqualified teachers who “have taken their places” has risen to 17,000.

“What a difference from this government and their contempt for the profession: 50,000 experienced, qualified teachers have left the profession in the last year alone. There are massive problems of recruitment throughout the profession. Nobody could possibly call this a success,” he will say.

Under a Labour government every school leader would be handed the same powers currently enjoyed by academy headteachers, and every type of school would be subject to the same local accountability measures, he will say.

“We also want every school to be locally accountable. That is what our new directors of school standards will ensure. And they will have a specific mission to drive up standards in every type of local school: local authority run, academies and free schools,” Mr Miliband will add. “And they will have clear objectives, standards challenges, agreed when they are appointed because we must now do the same in terms of driving up standards in all our regions that the last Labour government did in London.”

Mr Miliband will also highlight that, since 2010, the number of five-, six- and seven-year-olds taught in classes bigger than 30 has gone up by almost 60,000. He will pledge that no class will exceed that number for more than 12 months.

Related stories: 

Tristram Hunt: Labour will bring back the London Challenge – September 2014

Tristram Hunt: Children should be taught 'grit and determination' in school – February 2014

Government oversees 16 per cent rise in unqualified teachers, says Labour – April 2014 

Hunt: Labour will not tear up the new curriculum – June 2014

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