Following the omission of any mention of grammar schools in the Queen's Speech (21 June 2017) it has been confirmed by the Education Secretary today (28 June 2017) that proposals to lift the ban on new grammar schools have been scrapped. We believe that NAHT's campaigning pressure, alongside that of the other teaching unions and organisations, played a key part in influencing this policy reversal. Theresa May's plan to axe universal free school meals for 4 to 7-year-olds is also expected to be dropped - another manifesto policy which did not get a mention in the Queen's Speech.
Responding to the news NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “The general election result meant that the public failed to endorse many of the Conservative's more controversial policy ideas, including expanding selection. It is right that these policies are dropped from the government’s legislative programme.
“School leaders will give a sigh of relief to an end, at least for now, to distracting national structural reforms and continual tinkering. We need a calm focus on what works, a commitment to complete the changes to primary assessment, and clearly laid out plans for the next steps of a funding formula. Within the government’s briefing document on the Queen’s Speech, there is a welcome plan to deliver on a manifesto commitment to make funding fairer. It is unclear what this would look like in the absence of legislation and school leaders will need urgent clarity on this.
“Schools may have to await the autumn budget for clarity on the volume of funding itself, but it is clear that campaigners will not rest until we have significant investment to overturn real terms cuts. As well as the allocation of funds, the government must get to grips with the amount as well.”
NAHT’s concerns regarding Brexit’s impact on teachers from the EU
NAHT's view is that with Brexit expected to dominate politics over the next few years, and as the government negotiates the UK’s exit from the EU, it must fully consider the impact this will have on schools, colleges and pupils.
Russell Hobby says: “For schools, we need clarity on the status of teachers from the European Union. These make up 20% of new teachers registered every year so it is crucial that any changes assess the likely impact on the already serious teacher recruitment crisis. The government must make clear what the impact on education will be, and our call for a national strategy on recruitment and retention is something the government must consider in order to deliver the strategic planning schools need.”
First published 11 January 2018