ASCL comment on Labour leader’s speech

29/09/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the education ‘National Excellence Programme’ being announced in Labour leader Keir Starmer’s speech to the Labour conference. 
 
Commenting on the education ‘National Excellence Programme’ being announced in Labour leader Keir Starmer’s speech to the Labour conference, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“Labour is right to focus on improving the prospects of young people who leave education without essential qualifications. We have a good education system but it doesn’t work well enough for all pupils.
 
“Labour is also right to identify the importance of ensuring there are sufficient numbers of teachers and leaders supported by high-quality professional development and training. These are key ingredients in improving the outcomes of these young people.
 
“Reforming Ofsted to focus on supporting struggling schools sounds like a laudable idea, particularly as schools which are downgraded by Ofsted are often then stigmatised thus making it harder to secure improvement. But it isn’t clear exactly how this proposal would work in practice.
 
“We are far from convinced that Labour’s plan could be paid for by ending tax exemptions for independent schools, not least because it may result in the closure of small independent schools, displacing their pupils and the associated cost into the state system.
 
“Overall, this plan gives the outline of a promising sense of direction but one which will obviously need to be filled in with much greater detail. We would be very happy to work with Labour on the development of its proposals by giving the perspective of leaders from all types of schools and colleges.”