The government has today (Wednesday 14 March) launched an Integrated Communities Strategy green paper, which looks ‘to tackle the root causes of poor integration and create a stronger, more united Britain’.
Responding, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“School leaders see first-hand the impact that poor integration can have on children and families. Schools already invest a lot of time and money into getting children the support they need to learn and thrive. But they will be wary about the additional workload implications in this green paper.
“The green paper contains some laudable ideas but the impact on schools could be significant. Additional inspection measurements for Ofsted cannot help but result in additional workload for teachers and school leaders because Ofsted is a huge lever directing schools’ activities.
“There are several things school leaders have been pushing for that could aid integration, which the government could provide. The best way to teach children values, citizenship, and about the world around them is through PSHE. School leaders have been pushing for dedicated time in the curriculum for PSHE and we encourage the government to implement this quickly.
“Religious education is also crucial, to ensure all children learn about other religions and cultures, and to promote community understanding. NAHT calls for mandatory RE for all children, regardless of school type or family background.
“Finally, school budgets are at absolute breaking point. But every additional responsibility the government assigns to schools incurs a cost. From supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing, to teaching British values, to helping children with English as a second language, schools need extra staff and money to accomplish these things. But NAHT research shows the opposite is happening – our newest member survey shows that 79% of school leaders are having to reduce teaching assistant hours, and 47% are being forced to reduce non-educational support for children.
“School leaders agree with the government on the importance of integration. It’s something they work hard on already and they want to help more. But the government must ensure that its ambitions are matched by sufficient funding for schools to get the job done.”
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