Opinion Former Article

NUT: Access to education review must look outside the classroom

Ofsted review into raising achievement in education

Commenting on the announcement by Sir Michael Wilshaw that HMCI will conduct a review into access and achievement in education, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“It is of course right that we should look at how children from all backgrounds can achieve the best possible education. What we must also look at, however, is life outside as well as inside the classroom.

“The most recent child poverty figures make for sombre reading. No amount of parental or teacher attention can make up for poverty at home. Add to that cuts in local authority services, housing benefits, the Education Maintenance Allowance and free school meals, and it is clear that the life opportunities of children from disadvantaged backgrounds are being severely closed down.

“To counteract such disadvantage, schools need to have the funding and resources to ensure that all their pupils succeed. It is time that Government and Ofsted accepted this fact.

“The difficulties in teacher recruitment, identified as a problem for schools in previous reports, will certainly not have improved. Current Ofsted inspections have become alarmingly punitive and take little account of the difficulties that schools in disadvantaged areas face. It is little surprise that teachers leave; rather than be told wrongly that they have failed.

“All too often initiatives from this Government and Sir Michael Wilshaw are about criticising and condemning the profession. If this review is to have any impact at all it must be constructive and Ofsted must listen to the views of the teaching profession.”

END pr104-2012
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