Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the Chancellor’s speech this morning.
“We are pleased to see that the Chancellor has made education one of his priorities, but he now needs to deliver on that promise.
“The erosion in the real value of teacher and leader pay over the last decade has led to a recruitment and retention crisis that is already damaging educational standards. The Chancellor spoke a great deal about grounds for optimism. Teachers going on strike next week and leaders managing the implications of this are unlikely to share his sunny outlook.
“The extra funding for schools announced in the Autumn Statement will largely be swallowed up by the high cost of energy bills, leaving very little left over for any significant improvement to pay. The Chancellor is right to say the UK has some of the very best teachers in the world, but one third of them are leaving the profession within five years for jobs with better pay and conditions.
“The Chancellor is equally right to identify the importance of children leaving school with basic skills in reading and maths, and the role that technical qualifications play in equipping people with the skills they need for future employment. But any ambitions to improve education rely on schools having a qualified teacher in every classroom, something that is becoming more and more difficult to achieve. Providing the investment needed for a significant pay rise for teachers that will begin to address the recruitment and retention crisis must be the immediate priority.
“The Chancellor said that if companies cannot employ the staff they need, they cannot grow. It is exactly the same for schools and it is a damning indictment of the government that they are unable to recognise this.”