ATL comment on the Labour Party’s manifesto

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Press release
16 May 2017 by ATL Media Office
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), comments on the Labour Party’s manifesto plans for education.

Commenting, she said:

“We are pleased the Labour Party is willing to address the Government’s school cuts. The current situation is unsustainable. Pupils are being short-changed by a restricted and narrow curriculum and parents are seeing expensive free schools opened in places where they are not needed instead of there being a place for every pupil in their local school. Only by increasing per-pupil funding in real terms will these problems even begin to be addressed. Scrapping the requirement for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy will help by cutting the costs on schools.

“No-one wins when teachers, support staff and heads face excessive and unnecessary workload, and schools and colleges struggle to recruit or retain the staff they need. Lifting the public sector pay cap and setting up a School Support Staff Negotiating Body should certainly help with the recruitment and retention of staff. And the repeal of the Trade Union Act will help to protect workers’ rights following Brexit.

“But ATL members will be concerned that plans to charge VAT on independent school fees pose a real risk to the job security of teachers and support staff. We believe it is important to address the disadvantage and poverty which can limit educational attainment but would want to be assured there is strong evidence to support universal, rather than targeted, free school meals.

“Abandoning plans for baseline assessment will reduce the stress on the children and teachers in reception. The return of Sure Start centres in every community will do more to give disadvantaged children a better start in life and improve social mobility than the expansion of grammar schools. And making further education courses free at the point of use and reintroducing the education maintenance allowance should help to ensure that we have the skills that we need for the future.

“Effective development and implementation of skills policy will be essential post-Brexit and we urge all parties to commit to meaningful engagement with education professionals and learners throughout this process.”

For ATL’s general election priorities, please see our website: www.atl.org.uk/election

ENDS

Note to editors:

  • The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing approximately 170,000 teachers, headteachers, lecturers and support staff in maintained and independent nurseries, schools, sixth form, further and higher education colleges and universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • ATL exists to help members, as their careers develop, through first rate research, advice, information and legal advice, and to work with government and employers to defend its members’ pay, conditions and career development.
  • ATL is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). ATL is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.

 

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Election 2017