Labour has said it is a “little rich” for school leaders to be portrayed as creating a workload problem for teachers when there have been government cuts in funding.
Both Damian Hinds, education secretary, and Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, were speaking on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday TV show on Sky News today.
Mr Hinds said that pay remained an important part of attracting people into the profession but workload was also very important. "That's why I'm working to bear down on that and also to make sure flexibility is available in work," he said.
Six years missing recuitment targets
But Ms Rayner said the problems in the education system had built up over years.
She told presenter Ms Ridge: “Successive Conservative secretaries have increased the workload for teachers, cut the funding to our schools and have had six consecutive years of not meeting their teacher recruitment targets.
“So we know there is a problem in our schools and it’s a problem of their own making. I’m just pleased they have now started to listen but I think it’s a little rich to say school leaders have been the problem in terms of flexible working when actually we’ve seen the numbers of teachers reduced and cuts to our schools which have left us with hardly any support staff and the means to which we can educate our children.”
Recruitment and retention strategy
The interview came after Damian Hinds, education secretary, announced that teachers could be assisted into job shares through an online matching service and flexible working would be encouraged, as part of the forthcoming teacher recruitment and retention strategy, set to be unveiled tomorrow.
The latest government statistics on the school workforce, published in June 2018, showed that the full-time equivalent number of teachers in all schools fell from 457,000 in 2016 to 451,900 in 2017.
The government said in July 2018 that school funding was at a record high with per-pupil spending maintained in real terms between 2017-2018 and 2019-20. In October 2018, schools were given £400 million to buy “little extras”, a term that unions said was “deeply insulting”.
At a conference yesterday, Nick Gibb, school standards minister, was jeered when he said that the government was providing “record amounts of money for schools”.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that total school spending per pupil had fallen by 8 per cent in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18.
The DfE has been contacted for comment.