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Whiteman: Labour’s fresh pledges for education are a ‘mixed bag’ of extremely welcome and insufficient measures

Today, the Labour Party is making further General Election campaign promises on education. It says it will cap all class sizes at thirty pupils by recruiting nearly 20,000 more teachers. It also plans to invest more £7bn to tackle the backlog of vital but overdue repairs, reverse deficits in the High Needs Budget and reverse cuts to the Pupil Premium.

Labour says its total additional investment in schools over three years will amount to £25 billion.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “All the political parties now acknowledge that school budgets are at breaking point and that more money is urgently needed.

“As the School Cuts website shows, Labour are pledging the most, the Conservatives the least. This is just a fact. Labour’s additional £7bn to tackle repairs is very welcome and is equivalent to National Audit Office’s estimate of what it would cost to return all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition.

“However, on recruitment, Labour are well short of the 47,000 secondary teachers and 8,000 primary teachers that are needed by 2024 in order to keep pace with growing pupil numbers. We need significantly more recruits than Labour are suggesting just to meet rising demand never mind reduce current class sizes.

“The new recruits we need will not magically appear, and nor will they stay if we don’t also address the stress and unnecessary workload that is widespread in the system.”

Emily Proffitt, head teacher at Tittensor First School in the East Midlands, features in a new campaign video by NAHT, which is released today, highlighting the challenges school face in recruiting and retaining great teachers.

In the video, she says: “It's high workload, high pressure; I've got to look after their wellbeing. There's so many roles that teachers have to do. They have to become leaders early on, they have to lead and manage more than one subject. Making it an attractive position is important otherwise we find it very difficult to keep them.”

NAHT’s five priorities for education are:

  • A fully and fairly funded education system where the real-terms cuts since 2010 are reversed and there’s guaranteed long term investment
  • Great teachers and leaders in every class and every school with the support, development and reward to sustain a career in education  
  • Proportionate, reliable and fair inspection that schools and parents can have confidence in
  • A broad and balanced curriculum available to all pupils that gives children and young people different ways to show what they can do and properly prepares them for life
  • Timely and effective support from the services that children and families rely on so that all pupils get the help they need and achieve their potential

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363