Unions call for education bill to be dropped from Queen’s Speech

16th May 2016 at 17:36
Dealing with 'pressing issues' such as the funding crisis and assessment chaos should take precedence over new legislation, they argue

Unions are urging the government not to include an education bill in the Queen’s Speech this week.

A joint statement from five education unions has called on the government to "address the pressing issues in education" instead – such as the funding crisis, "serious" supply issues, and "assessment chaos".

Forced academisation

New laws that will force schools in local authorities that are no longer "viable" or "underperforming" to become academies are expected to be included in Wednesday’s Queen Speech.

The watered-down plans come after a U-turn from education secretary Nicky Morgan, who originally said every state school in England would be forced to become an academy by 2022.  

But the unions – representing headteachers, teachers, support staff and educational psychologists – argue that the government should be prioritising school funding before pushing though any legislation.

Their joint statement says: "This unnecessary and expensive reorganisation is being pursued at a time when all schools face real-term cuts in pupil funding and are having to pay more of that funding back to the Treasury in increased National Insurance and pension contributions.

"Schools need sufficient resources to deliver the educational excellence parents, governors, staff and politicians all want to see – but the funding freeze, increased costs and other inflationary pressures mean that many schools are facing financial strain.”

Call for meaningful discussion

The unions say the funding pressures are resulting in support staff being cut, teachers not being replaced, class sizes being increased and courses being cut.

The Association of Educational Psychologists, ATL teaching union, NAHT headteachers' union, NUT teachers' union and Unison, which represents support staff, have called for the government to engage in "meaningful discussions" with them over education issues, rather than pushing forward with a new education bill in the speech.

They say that autonomy would be reduced if the majority of schools are required to join a multi-academy trust, and fair admissions for local children would be threatened under mass academisation. 

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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