Reaction to Justine Greening's Conservative Party Conference Speech

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Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “NAHT has led the calls for the government to take action to address the recruitment and retention crisis in schools, and today’s announcement is a welcome step in the right direction.

“The Secretary of State has announced new investment in tailored support for schools facing the most acute recruitment challenges, alongside new pilot programmes to test loan forgiveness and stretched bursaries. These measures are welcome recognition that the current situation is unsustainable. Leaders in eligible schools will welcome any support that might help them recruit and retain good teachers. However, unless there is concerted effort to improve underlying pay levels, working conditions and status within the profession, these steps are unlikely to have much impact.

“Should these new pilots show early promise, we would urge the government to roll them out to all parts of the country without delay, so that all schools facing staffing challenges might benefit. Yet it appears that the Treasury continues to unreasonably constrain the efforts of the profession by not backing the DfE with additional funds, even when faced with overwhelming evidence of need. Meaningful change will not be achieved without real investment. The Chancellor’s speech later in the week will need to include an announcement of more investment in schools in order for NAHT and others to feel that our concerns are really being understood in Whitehall.

“You cannot do better than funding education fully and fairly and treating teachers well and paying them properly.

“The focus on additional support for early language and literacy is very welcome. Our recent report on School Readiness highlighted that an increasing number of children are starting school with poor communication skills. We will wait with interest to see the detail of these plans.

“Today the Secretary of State has demonstrated that her focus is in the right areas. All too often, predecessors have been distracted by changes to structure, with little impact on standards overall. It feels like progress can be made if the government will work with the profession to make sure that all young people get the education they deserve.”

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