Commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech on education today, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said the following:
"The Prime Minister’s speech is a desperate attempt to detract attention from the fact that his Coalition Government is engaged in a deliberate attempt to privatise schools.
“The cracks are beginning to show at the heart of a Conservative-led Coalition Government which is engaged in an assault on state education, although it has no mandate to do so.
“While the Prime Minister is delivering a speech on education in a vain attempt to mislead the public, the system is collapsing around him, including the prospect of national industrial action by the NASUWT.
“The general public did not vote for the Coalition Government’s ideologically-driven policies for schools.
“The facts speak for themselves and confirm that the Coalition Government’s schools policy is elitist, divisive and damaging to educational standards.
“The Prime Minister’s vision for education will not deliver first class education for all and will widen inequality.
“The Coalition Government has cut funding for schools in real terms and increased the cost of young people’s access to further and higher education, doing nothing to improve opportunities for young people and threatening the UK’s economic recovery.
"The Prime Minister’s speech fails to understand the basics; the stark fact is that strong investment in state education has enabled the UK to be at the top table of education nations around the world. The Coalition Government can take no credit for that.
“Mr Cameron should take note of the voice of the teaching profession. Teachers, not politicians, know what works in terms of providing quality education.
“Despite what the Prime Minister would pretend, teaching has been the career of first choice for graduates over the last decade and educational standards have broken all records. This success story is being undermined dangerously as a consequence of the actions of the Coalition Government.
“The public sector pay freeze, proposed changes to pensions, and deteriorating workload and conditions of service simply will not attract or keep highly qualified graduates in the teaching profession.
“Recent research confirms that 45% of teachers and school leaders say they want to quit the profession altogether.
“The announcement of changes to the performance targets for schools will further damage morale in schools and can only be seen as a naked attempt to fast track the privatisation of schools.
“This is not the time for further politically-motivated attacks, cuts and criticisms of state education, but to invest in and build on the achievements of teachers and the education workforce.”
NASUWT Press Office
Tel: 020 7420 9681
Mobile (and out of hours contact): 07966 198894
Address: 5 King Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8SD