Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Prime Minister’s New Year speech.
“We’ve heard from the Prime Minister more warm words about the importance of education as the best economic, social and moral policy for the country, and this is a sentiment with which we obviously agree.
“But the only tangible measure he has announced is a vague idea of extending maths teaching up to the age of 18 for every student without the slightest evidence of what this would achieve or an acknowledgement that we already have a severe shortage of maths teachers and the plan is therefore currently unachievable.
“The education system doesn’t need more policy gimmicks or random targets, but serious and sustained investment in schools and colleges after a decade of chronic underfunding, and a strategy to address teacher shortages which are at crisis point.
“We welcome the improvement in school funding announced in the Autumn Statement as a step in the right direction, but this comes in the context of budgets which have taken an absolute hammering for many years, and does not address post-16 education which has suffered appalling underfunding for the past decade or so.
“We also have an inspection system which stigmatises schools, an exam system which is stuck in the 1950s, and a curriculum which needs to be refreshed and modernised.
“There is plenty for the government to do if it is serious about education being the silver bullet. But it needs to deliver more than rhetoric and half-baked plans about extending maths to 18.”