Securing quality education entitlements for all children and young people
The NASUWT believes that all pupils should receive an entitlement to access a broad and balanced education which encourages learning for life.
A narrow curriculum can have a damaging impact on children’s motivation to learn and on discipline and behaviour in schools. There is also strong evidence that a narrowly prescribed curriculum affects adversely pupils’ commitment to learning, creativity and confidence as learners.
The world’s best-performing education nations value having a broad and balanced curriculum for their pupils.
In Britain, pupils are less likely, once they get to secondary school, to participate in active and creative pursuits compared with pupils in other countries. Poor access to stimulating educational activities particularly impacts on children from less well-off families.
The curriculum entitlement of pupils should equip all children and young people with a broad base of knowledge, experience and skills for life.
The NASUWT believes that all teachers must hold a nationally determined professional qualification.
The most successful countries have a highly qualified and high-status teaching profession and are committed to ensuring all teachers have guaranteed access to high-quality initial preparation, career-long continuing professional development and appropriate remuneration.
Professionally derived codes underpinning the professional conduct of teachers and headteachers/ principals should be overseen by an appropriate national regulatory body for teachers, which should be the standard-bearer for teacher quality.
Headteachers and principals should be lead practitioners who continue to practise pedagogy and who are committed to instructional leadership.
National professional standards and qualifications should also be a requirement for all headteachers and principals.
Education exists for the benefit of the individual. But public education serves a wider social purpose. It exists for the good of all individuals and the good of society.
The NASUWT believes that investment in real terms for public education should be a key priority for government.
The best education nations around the world know that they need to invest in teachers. Increasing investment helps to secure teacher quality, increase staffing levels and ensure high-quality facilities and resources to better support teaching and learning.
Gross expenditure on education in the UK is below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average. Greater financial investment, beyond traditional government spending, is needed if UK schools are to keep pace with our global economic competitors.
In other countries, employers and businesses recognise that they derive considerable benefits from investing in high-quality education.
In the UK, government should create the conditions in which businesses and employers invest more of their finances and time to help secure high-quality education for all.
The NASUWT believes that government should encourage schools to teach more and test less.
The UK is the world leader in spending per head on public examinations and tests, spending in excess of £600 million per year.
Whilst tests and examinations remain important, they need to be balanced alongside other purposes of education, including fostering children’s commitment to lifelong learning.
In the UK, children and young people enjoy a lower quality of life and happiness compared with their peers in other economically advanced countries. This has consequences for children’s educational outcomes and therefore for their future life chances.
The NASUWT believes that it is important to listen to and address the concerns raised by children and young people in the UK to make the UK the best place in the world to grow up.
The NASUWT believes that it is time for government to put pedagogy in the driver’s seat of school improvement.
Some of the very best education nations reject the use of ‘wrong drivers (pdf)’ for school improvement - eg. merit pay and excessive testing; instead, they focus practice on supporting teaching quality and enabling teachers to exercise informed professional judgement.
The conditions should be in place to enable teachers and headteachers/principals to be co-leaders of teaching and learning, working in the interests of children in a climate of professional collaboration and collegiality.
In the UK, the majority of teachers say they do not feel respected or valued as professionals and more than half of all teachers want to quit teaching for good.
Tackling poor employment practices, ensuring that all teachers have access to high-quality professional development throughout their careers, and tackling excessive and unproductive workload and working hours, will help to boost teacher morale.
The NASUWT believes that a 21st century curriculum entitlement is essential for economic prosperity, future employment and social mobility.
In the UK, the labour market is changing rapidly. For example, the demand for unskilled jobs in the UK economy will shrink from 3.4 million to as few as 600,000 by 2020.
The UK’s global competitors know the importance of creativity, project work and the need for multiple ways of assessing pupil progression and achievement. They prepare students for living and working in a globalised world and ensure parity of esteem between academic and vocational learning pathways.
Pupils’ entitlement to high-quality vocational as well as academic programmes of study is vital.
Schools and colleges should be supported by business and employers organisations to ensure equality of access to vocational education, including the provision of high-quality, practical, hands-on, work-based learning opportunities.
The NASUWT believes that government should ensure there is genuine engagement in education with a range of stakeholders, including parents, teachers and support staff, employers, universities and children and young people.
Evidence suggests that the more parents are engaged in their children’s education, the more successful will be the outcomes for their children.
Governing bodies should be equipped to provide appropriate support for school improvement and to discharge their responsibilities effectively.
There should be strong and active local education champions and a renewed role for local authorities, working proactively with all schools in the locality in the interests of all children and young people.
Local education champions should be democratically constituted and operate on a statutory basis.
The NASUWT believes that whilst it is right for schools within the system to be held to account, they must be held accountable for the right things and in the right way.
The accountability system, and day-to-day governance of schools, should be fit for purpose and contribute to securing greater public trust and confidence in public education.
There is much more to public education than examinations and qualifications. Reliance on narrow exam/test scores should be jettisoned in favour of evaluating schools against a ‘balanced scorecard’ of rounded expectations.
No provider of public education should be regarded as beyond scrutiny or too big to challenge.
Inspection should encourage teacher reflexivity and self- efficacy and a move away from high-stakes tests and league tables of schools.
Schools need to be learning organisations, driven through collegiate teacher praxis. The accountability system should foster and support collaboration and co-operation between schools and between teachers.
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