Congress is dismayed by the government’s failure to value publicly funded education, the steeply declining status in parts of the UK and the insufficiency of UK-wide investment. Over 13 years of Conservative rule education has lurched from one funding crisis to another; and one Education Secretary to the next. The abject failure to invest in the school workforce and estate has resulted in the worst recruitment and retention crisis, at all levels in the profession, since the 1944 Education Act. The lack of an overarching commitment and vision for high quality 21st century public education is having an increasingly detriment impact on pupils, schools and the communities they serve, blighting the life chances of children, particularly those from working class communities.
Congress notes with sadness the complete lack of energy, enthusiasm and dynamism from a government that appears to have run out of ideas.
Congress recognises that staff retention and recruitment is a particular challenge for the education and school sector. Congress notes the latest workforce survey by the Department for Education showing that 40,000 teachers resigned from state schools last year – almost 9 per cent of the teaching workforce, and the highest number since it began publishing the data in 2011.
Congress recognises that reducing the overall workload pressures on teaching staff, allowing them more time to focus on teaching and less time on administrative and other tasks, is a crucial to redressing the retention issue presently faced.
Congress also notes the results of the government’s own ‘Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders’ survey, showing that:
i. the most cited reason for considering leaving were high workload (92 per cent) and government initiatives or policy changes (76 per cent)
ii. more than half of all teachers thought their workload was unacceptable and they did not have sufficient control over it
iii. two-thirds of teachers report spending more than half of their working time on tasks other than teaching (rising to 77 per cent for secondary school teachers).
iv Congress calls all political parties to once again make education central to their manifesto commitment in the run up to the next general election.
Congress congratulates education unions for their joint work and solidarity which has already won additional pay and funding from government and commits further support in their continuing campaign for restoration of pay.
Congress calls on the TUC to:
a. lobby government to publish the full results of their ‘Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders’ survey
b. work in partnership with teachers and unions to develop policy solutions for the specific problem of workload pressures, such as facilitating an increase to PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time and greater levels of flexibility around PPA work.
c. support industrial action and campaigning by affiliates to secure a national contractual limit on the working time of teachers and headteachers in schools and colleges.
Supporter: NEU, NASUWT, EIS