School leaders’ union disappointed with political parties’ ‘fleeting exchange’ on schools in TV election debate

NAHT, the school leaders’ union, stated it was disappointed the first TV election debate between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and head of the labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, ‘did not do justice to the full range of issues dedicated leaders and teachers are grappling with every day’.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “Millions of parents and grandparents are ambitious for their children’s futures and will vote accordingly.

“All parties need to demonstrate they have the ambition required to restore education as a national priority, and as the campaign continues, NAHT will be doing all it can to raise the issue to the top of the political agenda.

“Investing in education is the right thing to do for the country’s long term prospects and the immediate needs of young people.”

Paul said it was disappointing the debate ‘saw such a fleeting exchange on schools’.

In the debate, Rishi Sunak stated that parents who ‘work hard’ should be allowed to send their children to private schools in response to Labour’s VAT policy to tax private schools. Sir Keir said one of Labour’s first steps would be to recruit 6,500 teachers.

Paul said: “Many schools are facing severe challenges in recruiting and retaining teachers, a situation fuelled by years of real-terms pay cuts, crippling workload and the harm caused by high-stakes Ofsted inspections with their blunt single-word judgements.

“But this is just one crisis facing schools, which also desperately need much more investment from the next government to fix decrepit buildings and help them ensure all children get a first-rate education, including pupils with special education needs for whom there is a real mismatch between the support they need and the funding available.

“The reality is that 70% of schools have less funding than they did in 2010 in real-terms.”

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