Concerned Sid Valley heads sign letter to Government

Headteacher Colin Butler

Headteacher Colin Butler - Credit: Archant

Sid Valley headteachers have joined a rallying call with around 60 other school leaders in a stand against the state of primary school education.

Heads at Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, West Hill and Tipton St John primary schools have signed a letter, to Nicky Morgan the secretary of state for education, and Nick Gibb, the minister of state for schools, questioning the Government’s leadership, vision and cuts to educational funding.

Colin Butler, headteacher at Tipton St John, said there had been many changes and an increased expectation on teachers which, combined with less money, left them struggling.

He added: “It’s not reasonable to expect a profession to do more and achieve higher standards with fewer resources... We’ve worked our socks off and we can’t do any more.”

Mr Butler said many concerns had been raised with the ‘unhelpful’ testing and ‘punitive accountability regime’ which lost sight of the ‘vision and purpose’ of learning, with the ‘obsession’ of assessing core subjects putting the curriculum ‘increasingly under siege’.

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He added, despite the undeniable importance of providing a broad education, incorporating art, music, dance and sport, the curriculum was being significantly challenged.

Mr Butler said the knock-on effect of cuts, across the public sector, meant schools were increasingly plugging gaps left by struggling health and social care services. He added: “We do it, because we care so much about the children, but it takes away from our core function which is teaching... Many children are coming into school with much more emotional issues around anxiety and worry.”

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Mr Butler said retaining and recruiting talented teachers was becoming increasingly difficult as many were leaving the profession because of excessive workloads and changes to pay and conditions.

“If we want these children to grow up having a fantastic education, we need fantastic teachers with the time and support to be fantastic in the classroom,” he added.

“We are not going to get this with the continued underfunding, work pressures and continuous change and new initiatives to manage.”

A Department for Education spokesman said 1.4million more children were in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, thanks to reforms and hardworking teachers.

He added: “The reformed curriculum is designed to ensure all children leave school having mastered the basics, but assessment should not be stressful. Tests are in pupils’ own interests, helping their teachers understand how they are doing.”

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