The government's education record is appalling, yet they are determined to continue with the doomed academy programme
The figures speak for themselves: 36 per cent of the schools that were rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2012/13 had previously been rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. There are 1.6 million children in England currently being educated in schools rated less than ‘good’. Here are some of the ways that the Conservatives have failed the education system:
1. Quality and supply of teachers
Currently around 400,000 children are being taught by unqualified teachers. This is after the government changed the law in 2012 to mean that ‘independent schools and free schools can already hire brilliant people who have not got qualified teacher status.’
The move was intended to give schools greater flexibility, but Labour argue that to raise standards in schools the focus must be on improving the quality of teaching; for this reason they will reinstate the teacher requirements that Cameron scrapped.
The government has also missed its teacher training target for three years in a row, and a record number of teachers – almost 50,000 – left the profession last year. This means that a teacher shortage crisis is now imminent.
As Left Foot Forward reported last week, the Public Accounts Committee have accused the Department of Education of having ‘significant gaps’ in their knowledge of school performance. For this reason, they are failing to intervene quickly enough when schools are failing; a lack of sufficient oversight has also been blamed for Birmingham’s ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal.
3. The attainment gap
In 2010, the Conservative Manifesto promised to ‘close the attainment gap between the richest and poorest’, but last week school league tables showed that the gap in attainment between disadvantaged children and their peers has widened for the second year running. Just one in three disadvantaged children (those eligible for free school meals) obtained five A* to C grades at GCSE, compared to 60.5 per cent of all students.
4. Free schools
In September Cameron said that the creation of Free Schools would ‘drive up standards’. However, one third of those inspected so far have been rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted, a much worse outlook than for all state-funded schools.
5. Class sizes
Since 2010, the number of infants being taught in classes of over 30 has risen by 200 per cent, hitting 93,665.
According to Labour:
“By focusing on pet-project Free Schools rather than the need for more primary school places, this government has created a crisis in school places, which is causing class sizes to soar and threatening standards.”
Commenting ahead of the prime minister’s speech today Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said:
“How much more evidence does the government need before it admits that its academy and free school programme has failed? It has failed on standards, failed on transparency, failed on accountability and failed to secure the trust of the public.
“It is a disgrace that the Government has allowed such a situation to develop and is turning a deaf ear to the serious concerns raised by such a wide range of people.
“It should turn its attention to the growing problem of insufficient school places, the drop in the number of applicants to train as a teacher and the fact that the number of teachers leaving the profession each year is at a 10-year high and has increased by 25 per cent since 2010.
“It is very clear that the academies and free schools programme has nothing to do with standards but everything to do with a privatisation agenda.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.