“Thank you Madame Mayor for the opportunity to speak about something I care deeply about.
I come from a family of teachers. My mother was a primary school teacher, my father is a university professor, my mother-in-law worked in SEN schools and my sister-in-law is also a primary school teacher.
And, after 10 years of resisting I also became a teacher.
All the signs had been there. I’ve worked as a camp leader, I was a Venture leader with the Woodcraft Folk and have also spent time lecturing at universities as well.
To me education is everything and while Lambeth Labour continues to support education Conservatives continue their ideological attacks against schools, students, parents, and trade unions; attacks that jeopardise all that we have achieved in Lambeth.
Following the Education Secretary’s humiliating climb down over Baseline Testing and the cancelling of the KS1 Spelling & Grammar test after it was published online widespread opposition led by Labour, supported by unions and others forced the SoS embarrassing retreat over acadamisation.
However, the Conservative Government’s White Paper continues to play a rigged game; one that threatens school budgets, teachers terms & conditions, that will remove parent governors and abolish QTS, and one that will continue to pressure schools to convert when the emphasise should be on delivering school and teacher improvements.
The fall in teacher numbers, teacher recruitment, and teacher retention, school budgets falling in real terms for the first time in 20 years will hold back the next generation of young people for years to come.
The Conservative Governments obsession with changing structures has done nothing to raise standards and simply creates anxiety in schools and the communities in which they work. Local communities will be damaged. It’s a power grab – simple – and it will ultimately make it harder for local authorities to effectively respond to local needs.
And, in Lambeth we will see this first hand.
These changes could dramatically impact the ability of schools in Lambeth to attract high quality teachers and school leaders and cause cuts in the number of teaching posts and teaching assistants.
As a former trade union rep I have seen the impact of Conservative education policy as teachers struggle with growing amounts of paper work, increased stress and an ever demanding set of expectations alongside reduced resource /support.
The proposed national funding formula for example will do nothing but further heighten the challenges facing Lambeth schools.
Lambeth is the 5th most deprived borough in London
• 34% of students are eligible for Free School Meals
• 47% have English as an additional language, and
• Almost 26% of students in Lambeth schools were identified as having a SEN
The ‘redistribution’ of funds is almost mean and will not adequately consider the actual needs of students from more disadvantaged backgrounds, and it’s reduction will threaten the provision we need in Lambeth.
In responding to the ill judged priorities Lambeth must remain value-driven. Values that come from equality of opportunity, equality of access to education, and equality of developing the potential of every child. But it’s also about the collective good – education benefits all areas of society.
Lambeth needs to work in partnership with schools and parents as they navigate these Conservative attacks and support the choices they make in setting their educational agenda – as this will allow us to remain at the core of the community.
As a council this will enable us to respond to local needs, to preserve our values and in doing so, secure the best possible outcomes for students in Lambeth.
I do not know a teacher that been teaching for 5 years or less that says they expect to make a long term career out of teaching and I have often wondered whether I made the right decision to become a teacher.
This Conservative Government is simply undermining /threatening all the achievements we have made here in Lambeth. According to Ofsted Lambeth has “nothing but good and outstanding secondary schools” whilst 90% of our primary schools are good or outstanding, which puts us in the top 10% of all boroughs nationally.
These hard fought wins come from the development of strong partnerships between schools and the local authority, which reflects the remarkable efforts of students, parents, head teachers, school staff, through trade union efforts, and Lambeth’s officers.
To repeat in order to maintain our success we must remain at the heart of our communities, therefore better able to respond to their needs, which in turn will able Lambeth to maintain the high standards we’ve achieved.
Ultimately, young people continue to face huge pressures. We need to keep the interests and educational well being of the child as our focus – to ensure a child centred approach is embedded through local community engagement.
So, we have set up our ‘protect Lambeth schools’ campaign. We have been lobbying Government about its education proposals and we have been talking and meeting with head teachers and parents about our response.
In ending, I’d also like to add that I’m a parent. I have two wonderful children, Zed and Juno. These Conservative changes breed doubt, which can only be to the detriment of our local communities and our children’s futures. We must work with schools and parents to make sure that they feel confident in the choices they make for their children and that they are confident in us and the education system, even with these Conservative attacks”.