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NAHT comments on Keir Starmer’s party conference speech

Today (Wednesday 29 September) Labour Party leader Keir Starmer addressed delegates at the Labour Party annual conference.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the largest union for school leaders, NAHT, said: “It is hugely welcome to hear education take such a prominent place in Keir Starmer’s speech today. Politicians of all parties need to make education a much higher priority than it has been during the pandemic.

“School leadership is one of the toughest jobs in the public sector, so it is absolutely right that we value and invest in the on-going development and support of leaders. Our recent member surveys have painted a deeply worrying picture, with 47 per cent of leaders saying they were less likely to stay in leadership for as long as planned, following the pandemic.

“Whilst Labour’s messages this week will be well received by the profession, we need all political parties to nail their colours to the mast now and say how much extra funding they are prepared to invest in education over the immediate and longer term. What backs up the words?

“NAHT wants to see politicians from all parties talking with the highest level of ambition for education in this country. We have a generation of ambitious young people, full of hope and demanding of change. Merely talking about ‘recovery’ implies a return to what we had before, which is simply not good enough. All politicians need to be bold.

“We look forward to hearing how bold the government is going to be in proposing something ambitious and truly world-beating next week, at the Conservative Party conference. And we want this to spark debate on how such proposals will be fully funded with plans for immediate and long-term investment.”

NAHT has put forward an education blueprint for the future, which urges policy makers to focus on seven key areas:

  • Prioritising Early Years funding and support
  • Improving support for mental health and wellbeing
  • Investing in the teaching profession
  • Providing targeted academic support for pupils who need it
  • Expanding extra-curricular provision
  • Investing in technology
  • Removing unnecessary accountability and bureaucracy.
First published 29 September 2021