Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/329/5580
Report Reveals Plans For Teaching On The Cheap
THE FUTURE of education? Nothing but blue skies... and schools without teachers! Opponents of the government's "Workforce Agreement" have always warned that its real purpose was to introduce teaching on the cheap.
Along with the introduction of new staffing regulations that allow anybody to teach, no matter what qualifications, we warned that the "deal" was designed to pave the way to teaching jobs being taken over by cheaper, less qualified staff.
If anyone thought this was exaggeration then they need to read the "blue skies" report leaked to the Times Educational Supplement last month.
This strategy paper, apparently written by a senior civil servant in the education department (DfES), goes further than even we imagined!
The paper sets out a vision of workforce 'reform' where schools: "Should seek to exploit... the new legal freedoms we have given schools".
It spells out clearly that this can now mean using support staff to "teach" as long as they "operate under a system of supervision by a teacher - but that teacher might of course be the head". So the future could be schools where the only qualified teacher is the head!
New Labour minister, David Milliband, has tried to distance himself from the paper, saying it was not government policy. But, whether officially sanctioned by ministers or not, the DfES official has simply spelt out the logical conclusion of government policy.
The paper admits that: "Spending review 2004 will be very tight, with new reforms largely needing to be funded from reworking existing budgets".
In other words, even this year, let alone in future, schools won't have the money they need to genuinely reduce teacher workload or improve support staff pay. Instead, any changes will have to be paid for by employing cheaper unqualified staff instead of qualified teachers.
It seems the DfES have given up on ever having the resources needed for schools to genuinely reduce the workload and improve the pay and conditions of teachers so that enough graduates will want to work, and remain, in our classrooms.
The official instead argues for changes: "That will take us into essential but presentationally uncomfortable areas, like the case for reducing overall teacher numbers to pay for a better adult/pupil ratio".
The paper is one more argument for the trade unions presently signed up to "workforce reform" to withdraw from the agreement.
If the 'deal' isn't going to have funding to employ more staff, if it is really about replacing teachers with non-qualified staff - as the NUT have always warned - then it is a deal that must be ditched.
In The Socialist 10 January 2004:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party workplace news