Teachers remain the key to raising school standards

Share

At last, one of the big questions hovering over the Government's education policy is beginning to receive an answer. Both the Prime Minister on Tuesday and David Blunkett talked on Wednesday about money - and plenty of it. After three years in which schools have found it difficult to see evidence of ministerial claims that delivery from the Conservative years of penury is at hand, the prospect is much brighter.

At last, one of the big questions hovering over the Government's education policy is beginning to receive an answer. Both the Prime Minister on Tuesday and David Blunkett talked on Wednesday about money - and plenty of it. After three years in which schools have found it difficult to see evidence of ministerial claims that delivery from the Conservative years of penury is at hand, the prospect is much brighter.

The national scandal of crumbling school buildings will be tackled seriously for the first time for decades, with much of the money going directly to individual schools to prevent local authorities diverting it for other purposes. Nursery education, a key to educational progress, particularly for working-class children, will be offered to all three-year-olds as well as four-year-olds.

For years, we have lagged behind our European neighbours in offering children the benefits of good nurseries. If the Government can sort out its plans for a new formula to get more of schools' annual budgets directly into classrooms, their finances will be on the way to recovery.

By and large, education is one of the Government's success stories. In primary schools, the literacy and numeracy hours are now widely accepted by teachers, and standards are rising rapidly. Infant class sizes are down, and proposals are in place to tackle secondary-school standards. Teachers will have the chance to earn more, albeit only if they meet conditions that some of them do not much like.

But Mr Blair's "education, education, education" project is still in danger. His carrot-and-stick approach to teachers is reasonable enough, but at times the stick has been more in evidence than the carrot. Only a few weeks ago, he was lambasting comprehensive schools, which 90 per cent of pupils attend, and he has repeatedly made political mileage out of attacks on the minority of incompetent teachers. Mr Blunkett may issue as many circulars as he likes, but without the support of classroom teachers the campaign to raise standards will falter. Earning teachers' trust should be a higher priority.

More important still, attacks on teachers undermine the status of a profession in desperate need of new recruits. The recently announced training bursaries will help, but the need to recruit and retain more teachers remains the most serious of ministers' educational problems. Money for nursery places and buildings is very welcome but, in the end, there may be no substitute for big improvements in both salaries and conditions for teachers.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore