Commenting on new data released by the National Education Union (NEU) today, showing that class sizes have risen dramatically in the past decade, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“Schools have suffered an unprecedented 13-year funding freeze. Children and their families have seen class sizes soar, teaching assistants laid off, subjects dropped, resources diminish, and school buildings fall into disrepair, all because ever-reducing budgets make it harder and harder to make ends meet.
“Just this week new data from the Education Support Partnership showed that stress for teachers and school leaders is at an all-time high. We know from our own members that workload is a huge driver of teachers and leaders leaving the profession. Larger class sizes can only exacerbate the recruitment and retention crisis in education.
“It must be any new government’s first education priority to fully and fairly fund schools, both reversing the real-terms cuts, and with a guarantee of long-term investment, and to provide all education professionals with the support, development and reward to sustain a career in education.
“In an increasingly fragmented school system we lack a co-ordinated approach to place planning. Local authorities are responsible for ensuring sufficient school places but the powers and resources necessary to do so have been removed. Decisions around place planning are therefore taken locally and in isolation, which doesn’t guarantee that the needs of a fluctuating pupil population will be properly met. We desperately need integrated planning of school places across all types of schools to ensure sufficient provision in all areas of the country, with manageable class sizes. Until some agency at the local or regional level has the information and the clout to prioritise school places where they are most needed, parents and children will always be unsure that the system will give them what they want.”
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