Reclaiming Schools was set up to support campaigns for progressive and socially responsible education. Our aim is to make reliable research available to teachers and the wider community.
During the General Election period, there will be many local meetings concerning education. We have produced the following as a two-sided A5 flyer which you can have printed in multiple copies locally (click flyer ready for printing). Groups of parents or union branches are welcome to print it over their own name rather than ours, along with some local details as appropriate. You can also download speaker notes with further details and sources.
Schools in crisis: the evidence
Massive budget cuts will affect nearly every school
The Government have announced plans for drastic budget cuts: an average £403 for each primary pupil and £554 for secondary. Many areas will lose hundreds of teachers. (www.schoolcuts.org.uk for details)
Classes will get bigger, subjects will be cut, children’s needs will be neglected. Already many schools are asking parents to pay.
Teacher morale is rock bottom
A climate of fear reigns in many schools. Headteachers frightened of Ofsted are burdening their staff with pointless tasks. A quarter of teachers work more than 60 hours a week.
1 in 4 new teachers quit within three years, and thousands of experienced and successful teachers fall ill due to stress then leave. Many new teachers are inadequately prepared through fast-track training schemes.
Nearly 1 in 3 children are growing up in poverty
Around 4 million children are in poverty, and benefit changes are driving up the numbers. Most of their parents are trapped in low-paid jobs.
Children often suffer poor health and inadequate housing which affects their education. Adolescents growing up in areas of high unemployment become demoralised and lose interest in school. Most children on free school meals underachieve at school.
The chances of social mobility are now very limited. Meanwhile, during this period of Austerity, the super-rich have doubled their wealth. We are living in one of the most unequal societies in the world.
Poor prospects for the young
Young people who get to university end up with crippling debts. There are few opportunities for the rest. A small minority gain apprenticeships, often with poor quality training. Many are offered short-term college courses and low-level qualifications, or shift between low paid jobs and unemployment.
Children are being judged in their first weeks at school. They are sorted into “average ability” or “low potential” on the basis of inaccurate tests.
Young children need time to play and explore. They should be learning to communicate and relate and experience, not be drilled with rote learning.
Half of 11-year-olds are told they are failures
Impossibly difficult tests are set by the Government at the end of primary school. Half our children are starting secondary school carrying failure labels in Reading, Writing or Maths.
Test preparation is swallowing up more and more time at primary school. Little time is left for history or geography, music or art, PE or projects.
Grammar schools for a few will mean low-quality schools for the rest
The Prime Minister’s plan to extend grammar schools across the country means a worse education for the vast majority.
In areas with selection at 11, low and middle income families are discriminated against. Only 1 in 20 get to grammar school from the poorest fifth of the population. Even among the middle fifth, 3 out of 4 children are consigned as 11+ failures to inferior ‘secondary modern’ schools.
A mental health crisis among young people
Our country is almost the worst country in Western Europe for young people’s satisfaction with their lives. This generation are suffering unprecedented stress, exacerbated by the fear of exam failure and an insecure future.
Asset stripping: schools removed from democratic control
Most secondary schools are now academies, run by private bodies with no democratic control. The same is happening to primary schools.
Though many academies are good schools, the system is out of control. Chief Executives are extracting huge salaries from money that should be spent on children. Large contracts are handed out to friends and relatives.
8 June – time for change
Reclaiming Schools is a network of researchers at over 20 English universities. You can find the evidence behind these statements at http://www.reclaimingschools.org.
Follow us on twitter @reclaimschools
Email us on email@example.com