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Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, has responded to the speech given today by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to the Union’s virtual Annual Conference.

While the minister praised the work of teachers, the profession needs the minister to address the issues affecting their pay, conditions and morale, Dr Roach has stated.

“NASUWT members will not be impressed by the Education Secretary’s praise of teachers whilst he fails to address the many serious issues impacting on their morale and working conditions and whilst also continuing to insist that teachers’ pay should be frozen this year.

“Whilst it is welcome that the Education Secretary has at least accepted there is a problem of teacher retention, he must explain how he intends to remedy the full range of problems facing the profession.

“Teachers also want to hear how the Government will take steps to stop the abuse of excessive freedoms which has been used by some employers to deny teachers their statutory and contractual rights at work.

“The Government’s incompetent handling of the pandemic resulted in an exams fiasco, a deepening workload crisis, the failure to ensure compliance by employers with health and safety and equalities legislation, which have all impacted adversely on teachers’ physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“Teachers’ commitment and resilience have been tested to the limit. Ministers cannot expect teachers, who have delivered so much for so long during this pandemic, to simply soldier on.

“Gavin Williamson’s insistence on improving teacher quality contradicts the Government’s continued ideological pursuit of deregulation, extended employer freedoms and their failure to require all schools to employ qualified teachers.

“The Government’s target to recruit more teachers has only been met in the last year because of the deep economic shock caused by the pandemic. There can be no room for complacency.

“No other profession loses as many newly qualified entrants than teaching. The causes of this are systemic and require system-wide solutions.

“Teachers are continuing to deliver the best for pupils, but they cannot be left to plug the gaps caused by government deregulation, lack of statutory enforcement, and last-minute and poor decision-making by the Government.

“We insist that the Education Secretary must work with us to develop a response to this crisis and provide teachers with better working conditions entitlements that will help to restore teacher morale and aid retention within the profession.”

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