Teachers' unions in the UK have responded to announcements by the Department of Education (DfE) calling on the authorities to take better account of the workload, accountability, pay and funding of educators to ensure quality education for all.
NEW: A general increase in student teachers is to be welcomed, but bottlenecks in certain subjects and retention are a challenge
The Joint Secretary General of the National Education Union (NEW), released on December 3, Kevin Courtney, spoke about the DfE's latest numbers on new entrants to postgraduate teacher education and said, “The significant increase in the number of trainee teachers is welcome and necessary as the government is in had not achieved its own recruitment goals in the past seven years ”.
However, he said it was important to understand that this surge is a response to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still a significant shortage of applicants in physics, modern foreign languages, Design and technology, chemistry and math.
Courtney warned that "recruiting is nothing without retention," stating that the government must have a long-term plan for retaining teachers so that they can still work in schools five years from now. This has been a failure of conservative governments over the past decade, he said.
"Desperate workloads, over-accountability, the harmful effects of Ofsted, wage freezes and underfunding of schools need to be addressed to ensure we keep the teachers we need and that children get the education they deserve," he concluded .
NASUWT: More details required on qualifications, inspections and accountability
Patrick Roach, Secretary General of NASUWT- The Teachers' Union stressed that “Students, teachers and principals have been eagerly awaiting further details of the measures to ensure that those taking their GCSEs and A-Levels – important school exams in the UK – next summer Not being disadvantaged by the EU As a result of the pandemic, they continue to experience major disruptions in their education. "
Even when it comes to some of the uncertainties associated with qualification, inspection, and accountability, the announcement leaves many important questions unanswered, according to Roach. The announced measures do not go far enough, he said. “Although we welcome the announcement that the students are to be informed in advance of the topics covered in the examination papers and that they can use examination aids, these measures will not be sufficient to ensure the fairness of the students who have due to Covid -19 suffered a higher level of interference, ”Roach emphasized.
He also recalled that NASUWT had never underestimated the scale of this challenge or the problems that disrupt normal exam procedures. However, the union believes the government's delay in submitting plans for the exams and qualifications next summer has created "unnecessary anxiety, stress and workload for teachers and students".
Roach insisted that "the DfE must ensure that the expert group it wishes to convene is informed and shaped directly by practicing teachers and school principals". School staff have direct and valuable experience of the impact a COVID-19-related disorder has had on learners, especially those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged, as well as those living in areas of the country and Attending schools that are particularly hard hit are added.
He agreed that given the current restrictions on schools, it is right that routine Ofsted inspections remain on hold during the spring semester, and urged the government to “use the current inspection break to reflect on how to make the system of school responsibility more appropriate support and reflection on the vital work of all schools ”.