Commenting on today’s speech at Brighton College by the Secretary of State for Education, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Michael Gove is right to highlight the fact that the United Kingdom has a ‘profoundly unequal society’. It is a great shame that the Coalition Government’s policies will do nothing to alter this fact, and in many cases will make matters even worse.
“Cutting the Education Maintenance Allowance and raising the cost of university tuition fees has meant that for many poorer pupils further or higher education is not an option. This is a decision based not on their educational achievements but on their family’s economic abilities to keep them in education.
“Vulnerable children and young people are having their lives and education thrown into turmoil due to the housing benefit cap. Failure to address rising child poverty levels and unemployment amongst young people adds to rather than lessens the problems of social inequality.
“Cutting school and local authority budgets threatens the very support services which help pupils throughout their education. Music and sports provision has also been dramatically cut. This is having a great impact on those children for whom private lessons or being part of sports clubs is not an option.
“The unnecessary but expensive academies and free school programme is also divisive as their admissions and exclusion polices often represent a move away from providing the poorest of pupils with the education they deserve.
“Teachers are motivated by trying to deal with the inequalities in society. They do not need a lecture on it. Teachers see the results of the Governments policies every day in their classrooms and are very clear that we are not all in this together.”