Voice: the union for education professionals has launched its Election Manifesto – a statement to the political parties, setting out what the union believes should be the education and childcare priorities for the next Government after the General Election.
Commitment to positive engagement with teacher and education unions when developing education policy.
Education policy impacts on everyone and everything – pupils, teachers, support staff, parents, further and higher education institutions, industry and commerce.
Change to education policy that is made without engagement with all relevant stakeholders and those who will be charged with delivering the policy change – especially when done at a pace to meet a political timetable rather than one which is for the benefit of pupils or the profession – has a detrimental impact on pupil education, progress and achievement.
Furthermore, the aim of education policy development should not be to fulfil a political ideology, but to meet the development and learning needs of pupils to fulfil their personal, academic industrial or commercial aspirations.
Re-establish a national pay and conditions structure for all teachers in England and Wales.
Any new or revised pay and conditions structure should apply to all publicly-funded qualified teachers, including those working in academies and free schools.
The real-term reduction in pay is starting to result in recruitment problems, in terms of attracting graduates into the profession, and difficulties in retaining experienced teachers in the profession. The DfE’s own estimates of the demand for school places over the
next few years show that there is an increasing need for teachers. Recruitment difficulties will only get worse if teaching salaries fail to keep up with other professions.
With economic recovery, the retention of experienced teachers is essential. They need to have a realistic expectation of a career and salary structure with appropriate and proportionate accountability.
In order to meet their obligations to pupils and provide high quality education, schools require funding levels that enables them to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Without adequate funding, schools will struggle to meet the many challenges that must be embraced in order to deliver high quality education, which includes recruitment and retention of qualified staff and changes to curriculum and assessment and accountability.
Commitment to set up and implement a national pay and conditions structure for all school support staff.
Support staff in schools carry out a vital role. They are essential members of the education team in schools who are highly valued by their teacher colleagues. The number of school support staff has grown considerably in the last ten years. However, previous attempts to establish a national pay and conditions structure have not been a priority for successive governments, leaving pay and conditions of staff at the mercy of market forces and affordability, rather than a true reflection of the worth and value of their qualifications, knowledge, experience and skill in complementing and supporting teaching and learning.
The pay ranges and differences of support staff who undertake similar roles can vary greatly across the country. The introduction of a national pay and conditions structure is long overdue, as is a coherent career structure supported by ongoing CPD.
In order to meet their obligations to pupils and provide high quality education, schools require funding levels that enable them to recruit and retain a qualified education workforce without the constant need to restructure and put jobs at risk in order to constantly cut budgets.
Without adequate funding, schools will struggle to meet the many challenges that must be embraced in order to deliver high quality education, which includes recruitment and retention of qualified staff and changes to curriculum and assessment and accountability. Further austerity cuts to education and failure to rectify school funding allocations are likely to have a detrimental impact on education, pupils, the education workforce and employment prospects of pupils.
Commission research on the terms and conditions of employment of private sector childcare workers.
Recent research highlights qualified and unqualified childcare workers as being amongst the lowest paid in the country. Qualified childcare professionals who have trained and undertaken academic and practical assessment are more likely to earn the minimum wage or a little above it for most of their career. Promotion opportunities are limited and often provide greater responsibility, which is not matched or reflected by the accompanying salary increase.
There is no benchmark for terms and conditions of employment and salary against which private and voluntary sector childcare providers can compare or aspire to. The low level of funding of the free entitlement for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, in addition to the impact of the recent recession and austerity cuts, has had a further impact on the terms and conditions of childcare workers and their salary prospects.
Childcare has often been referred to as the Cinderella service, the poor relation of education. Pre-school education and care is the start of the education journey for children and is the essential foundation for their education. The important role of pre-school childcare and those professionals who work in the field should be reflected through their pay and conditions.
Without a benchmark to aspire to or the funding and investment from government, this is a difficult task for employers. Voice believes that research should be undertaken to establish the range of terms and conditions of pay and employment of qualified childcare staff to establish a benchmark position. Such research could be undertaken by the Manpower Services Commission Low Pay unit or other similar agency.
Introduce a statutory national pay and conditions structure for all staff in further education in England and Wales.
The pay and conditions of FE staff have been eroded in recent years and needs to be addressed to prevent a crisis in recruitment and retention. Pay and conditions must be enhanced to reflect the increasing and changing role in the education system and the current lack of parity with school staff.
Reduce teacher and head teacher workload and promote work life balance for all education staff.
The level of teacher workload as identified by DfE consultation and research is excessive. Workload drivers identified include external pressure such as government change to education policy, and Ofsted inspections that promote an unhealthy culture of fear and which lead to internal pressure to ‘gold-plate’ evidence in pursuit of a good judgement, especially at a time of uncertainty and curriculum change. All this leads to long working hours and an inability to achieve a reasonable work-life balance, which is beginning, as the economy picks up, to not only create a recruitment crisis but also one of retention.
[Further information: www.voicetheunion.org.uk/workloadchallenge]
Fair treatment of all staff subject to safeguarding allegations or under investigation for disqualification by association.
Voice fully recognises and supports the fact that all children must be safe from harm at all times. Voice also believes that staff under investigation should have a statutory right to anonymity and an assurance that the outcome of all internal, Ofsted and or police investigations is fairly and accurately recorded and reported.
Regulation of nannies through compulsory registration.
An inconsistency remains in relation to the regulation of childcare. Childcare on domestic premises when undertaken by a nanny employed privately by parents is currently unregulated. Voluntary registration is required where parents wish to claim childcare tax credit.
The childcare profession is broadly in favour of extending regulatory powers to include nannies. Nannies themselves see such registration as an official recognition of them as childcare professionals within the childcare workforce.
Regulation through registration will therefore serve multiple purposes, including assurance for service users (parents), quality assurance and safeguarding for all children (achieving consistency across the childcare sector) and, through official recognition, further promote and establish nannies as professionals and the role of the nanny as solid career option within childcare.
Establish a nationwide register of asbestos use in school buildings.
There is inconsistency across local authorities and other school providers in relation to the management of asbestos in schools. Many school staff are unaware of the location of asbestos within their schools, and therefore of the risks of exposure for them and pupils should any part of the building be damaged, however slight that damage might be.
It is therefore necessary to raise awareness of the whole education team to the dangers of asbestos and how it should be managed, and how to challenge asbestos management practice and to report mismanagement and or likely exposure due to damage to buildings.
[Further information: www.voicetheunion.org.uk/asbestos]
Read Voice’s Election Statement online at: www.voicetheunion.org.uk/manifesto2015.
Voice represents education and childcare professionals across the UK.
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