Rushed school reforms are causing confusion and concern, warns TUC

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date: 26 November 2010

embargo: 00.01hrs Saturday 27 November 2010

TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady will today (Saturday) warn that rushing through major changes to the school system with little or no consultation has left parents, teachers and governors confused and concerned about the future of the schools system.

Speaking later today at the TUC conference The future of our schools taking place in central London, Frances O' Grady will say:

'Since the election, the government has accelerated the academy programme, established free schools and cut the school building programme.

'As if that were not enough, only this week we've had an education White Paper with another long list of reforms.

'The government argues that the election gave it a mandate to introduce these reforms. But there is widespread unease about the speed and scale of change.

'Rushing through making major changes to the school system with little or no consultation has left parents, teachers and governors confused and concerned about the future of the schools system.

'We need a proper national debate on the future of our schools that involves everyone interested in our schools system. Without this debate, the government risks listening only to those obsessed with the undermining of comprehensive schools and ignoring those who want everyone, regardless of their income or where they live, to have access to a better education.'

The TUC schools conference, whose speakers range from the head of the National Governors' Association to the head of the UK's leading independent race equality think tank, will consider what the school reform agenda means for pupils, parents and teachers, and how education is affected by the spending cuts.

The future of our schools will include a fresh look at free schools - the government's latest initiative. A senior official of the Swedish teachers' union, Fredrik Mandelin, will talk about the how free schools have fared in Sweden, the pioneer of the free schools movement and where the government has drawn its inspiration from.

Other speakers at the conference include:

  • Peter Mortimer, Former Director, Institute of Education
  • Lucy Heller, Managing Director, Ark Schools
  • Emma Knights, Chief Executive, National Governors' Association
  • Sir Alasdair Macdonald, Headteacher, Morpeth School, Tower Hamlets
  • Melian Mansfield, education campaigner
  • Fredrik Mandelin, Swedish Teachers' Union
  • Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust
  • Fiona Millar, journalist and education campaigner
  • Lynn Stables, a parent whose child attends a school affected by the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

The future of our schools will be chaired by journalist Warwick Mansell and will include six workshops on a range of education issues for delegates.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- Further information about the future of our schools conference is available at www.tuc.org.uk/industrial/tuc-18598-f0.cfm

-The conference takes place between 10am and 4pm at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS.

- Journalists wishing to attend the conference or speak to any of the panellists on the day of the event should contact Rob Holdsworth on 07717 531150 or email rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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