Commenting on the statement by the Secretary of State for Education setting out proposals to reform the system of primary assessment, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:


“It is important to recognise, and as the NASUWT has stated consistently, that many of the concerns expressed about statutory primary assessment are the direct result of their use in the current high stakes school accountability regime.


“The NASUWT therefore continues to call on the DfE to work with teachers to reform the primary school accountability framework to tackle its adverse implications for pupils and staff in schools.


“The Union is clear that the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile in its current form is not fit for purpose and creates significant and unnecessary assessment and record-keeping burdens for teachers. The NASUWT therefore welcomes proposals to review the Profile and looks forward to engaging with the DfE on the details of its plans.


“The NASUWT has always stressed that progress measures are, in general, a more effective and equitable indicator of the contribution schools make to the achievement of pupils than those focused on assessment. The Union therefore accepts that there is a need for an on-entry assessment to establish a benchmark for evaluating future pupil progress, but these assessments must be administered in ways that are manageable for schools and do not create additional workload burdens for teachers and school leaders.


“While in principle the abolition of statutory KS1 assessments is welcome, this will be largely meaningless if these tests are still available to schools on a non-statutory basis. Continuing to make these tests available would represent a poor use of public money. If these tests are no longer to be compulsory, then they must be scrapped altogether.


“While the removal of some statutory teacher assessment at KS2 is welcome, the NASUWT remains disappointed that the DfE intends to persist with externally moderated teacher assessment of writing at Key Stage 2. Although the DfE plans to introduce amendments, the Union is concerned that many of the problems that have beset this assessment since its introduction in 2012 will continue in future.


“The plan to pilot reforms to the assessment of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities must be undertaken carefully. As the NASUWT warned at the time, Government reforms to the National Curriculum were driven through without effective consideration being given to how this curriculum would be assessed. A stark consequence of this recklessness is that arrangements for assessing pupils with SEND have still not been finalised. For too long the needs of pupils with SEN have been an afterthought, rather than part of a unified approach to the curriculum and assessment which strives to meet the needs of all pupils.”

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Commenting on the announcement of the new National Funding Formula by the Secretary of State, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:


“The NASUWT acknowledges that there are compelling reasons to reform the current school funding system so that it ensures a fairer distribution of the overall funding that is available and takes better account of factors such as pupil deprivation.


“However, the funding formula announced today will not be sufficient to offset the real terms funding losses over the period since 2010.


“This follows the £1.3billion announced for schools in July which was little more than recycled money from other areas of the education budget


“What is needed is significant additional investment into our school system to support high-quality education provision for every child, no matter what their needs or circumstances.


“This announcement fails to secure this and therefore fails both schools and pupils.”


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Delegates at the TUC Congress were today told that, for the sake of thousands of students, parents and staff, the Government must urgently  commission an independent inquiry into last weeks’ shock announcement that Wakefield City Academies Trust is to abandon 21 schools it operates,


In the debate on the emergency motion the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union called on the Government to act immediately for the sake of pupils and staff in the Trust’s schools and to review how many other pupils and staff are at risk of facing the same crisis.


Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT said:


“For the pupils and staff in these schools instead of starting the new academic year with stability and optimism, they now face chaos and confusion as the academy trust collapses around them.


“This isn’t the first example of a trust collapsing, putting in jeopardy the future of young people and the livelihoods of teachers and other staff. Regrettably it won’t be the last.


“How many more pupils, parents and staff must face this anxiety before the Government acts to address the major flaws in its academisation programme.”


Moving the motion NASUWT’s Robert Barratt told delegates:

“The Government is playing Russian roulette with the lives and futures of our children and young people.

“An urgent, independent inquiry into what happened at the Wakefield Academies Trust is needed.

“The sponsors of this and other failed academy trusts cannot be permitted to simply hand schools back to the government and walk away. It is important that lessons are learned and those responsible are held to account.”

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Working people are increasingly seeing their rights eroded at work and being victimised by hostile employment practices as a result of the anti-trade union legislation introduced by successive Conservative governments, delegates at the TUC Congress heard today.


A motion moved by the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union deplored the attacks on trade unionists in a climate where employers routinely denied the rights of workers who were often in low-paid and precarious employment.


These conditions often mean that some workers are fearful of victimisation if they join a trade union.


The NASUWT, in partnership with the GMB, UNISON and Unite is campaigning with school and college employers to value teachers and support staff.


NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said: “This Government wants to restrict, stifle and silence opposition and attack our fundamental democratic rights and freedoms. Their programme is an attack on basic rights, freedoms and entitlements and on democracy.


“As a movement we will continue to push back against attempts to undermine and diminish workers’ rights, to extend trade unions’ reach into workplaces and to continue to ensure that unions remain a strong, progressive force in civil society.”


Moving the motion NASUWT President Fred Brown told delegates: “We have seen some truly shocking examples of employers creating conditions akin to Victorian workhouses rather than 21st Century workplaces.


“Education is no exception. Supply teachers are increasingly exploited by unscrupulous agencies, often through the use of offshore-based umbrella companies, and where abuses include teachers being required to pay their employers’ national insurance contributions.


“However, we must recognise that there are employers who treat their employees fairly, with dignity and respect.


“These employers should be recognised and used as an example to those poor employers, and to highlight to prospective employees the employers who will treat them well.”

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Commenting on the publication of the OECD’s Education at a Glance report, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers Union, said:


“The damaging impact of the Government’s public sector pay cap is confirmed in this report which identifies England is one of the few countries where teachers’ salaries have declined since 2013.


“The OECD report provides further evidence that low pay and excessive workload are key factors driving the teacher recruitment and retention crisis in the UK.


“Teachers have found that their pay has simply not kept pace with inflation, with a cumulative average salary loss of 15% since 2011.


“The Government’s policy to depress teachers’ pay is forcing many to take on a second job or use credit cards and payday loans in order to make ends meet.


“The OECD report also suggests that the UK’s deepening teacher recruitment and retention crisis is affected by excessive workload pressures and stress which has driven many teachers out of the profession due to burnout, ill health and lack of access to flexible working.


“The OECD report highlights that strong and high-quality education systems are built on foundations of valuing, supporting and investing in the teaching workforce. Without action to tackle the factors driving teachers out of the profession, the UK will not be able to sustain the world-class education system needed to compete with the rest of the world.”


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Commenting on the National Audit Office’s report Retaining and Developing the Teaching Workforce, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:


“The National Audit Office is just the latest body to warn of the deep teacher recruitment and retention crisis which this Government has created and to highlight the lack of effective action by ministers to address it.


“In order to recruit sufficient numbers of high-quality teachers and retain existing professionals in the classroom, the Department for Education should be focusing its efforts on driving down excessive teacher workload and reforming the high-stakes accountability system which drives much of the necessary bureaucracy which teachers are facing.


“The Government must also heed the growing pressure its public sector pay cap is having on recruitment and retention and act urgently to remove the unacceptable pay cap and restore salaries to levels which are competitive with other graduate professions and which reflect the high level of knowledge and skill which teaching demands.”

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The Government was today condemned for its “economically sadistic” policies which wreak misery on the most vulnerable sectors of society and drive millions into poverty.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union said it was a “disgrace” that in the fifth largest economy in the world children and young people were the victims of “callous fiscal and social policies” which the country had endured since 2010.

Ms Keates was speaking at the TUC Congress in Brighton on behalf of an NASUWT motion highlighting the devastating impact poverty has on the life chances of children and young people.

The Union’s motion at the TUC Congress in Brighton condemned the government’s record on child poverty as “shameful” and highlighted the way some schools were adding to the problem.

The government was failing to prevent some schools from stockpiling unspent reserves while cutting curriculum provision and axing teaching jobs, it added.

Delegates were also told how those children and young people growing up in poverty are less able to concentrate in lessons, more likely to be absent from school and less able to forge relationships with peers.


Ms Keates said: “Generations of children are being betrayed. Poverty is not a lifestyle choice. Poverty is not something people impose on themselves. We know where the responsibility lies.
“It lies with a government which has obsessively pursued austerity, regardless of the misery it has wreaked on the most vulnerable in our society.

“We cannot allow the Government to continue these economically sadistic policies which are driving families into poverty, poisoning the optimism of our young people and derailing and degrading the life chances of children.”

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