Opinion Former Article

NUT: Conservative Election Manifesto

Commenting on the Conservative Party's general election manifesto, which was published today, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said:

"I welcome the Conservative Party's recognition of the need to reverse the commercialisation of childhood. Schools should be a safe haven from the pernicious attempts of the advertising industry to target young people.

"In the past I have welcomed Michael Gove's emphasis on the need to trust teachers more. I am disappointed, therefore, that the word 'trust' does not appear anywhere in the schools section of the manifesto whereas they recognise the need to 'trust healthcare professionals' elsewhere in the document.

"It will be nigh on impossible for the Conservatives to 'raise the status of the teaching profession' if they persist in using dodgy statistics and assertions. On the Today Programme this morning, William Hague said that 40 percent of children leave primary school unable to read or write. This denigrates the work of teachers and pupils and is simply untrue.

"The Conservatives' determination to fragment the schools system, going further and faster, concerns the NUT greatly. Their free school policy is simply not cost-effective. It is ironic that while the Tory manifesto makes clear the 'need for public sector-belt tightening' they want to extend the expensive and untested Academies programme to primary schools.

"Their belief that unfettered competition drives up school standards is reliant on surplus places. This will cause havoc for head teachers and governors who will then be expected to plan year-on-year efficiencies. The free school policy is also based on the false premise that vast numbers of parents have the time, desire or expertise to run their own schools."

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