world : Education has taken 'back seat' during election

world : Education has taken 'back seat' during election
world : Education has taken 'back seat' during election

Monday 1 July 2024 08:30 AM

Nafeza 2 world - With the economy, NHS, and immigration all taking centre stage during this general election campaign - some head teachers say education is taking a "back seat" and the "big issues are not being addressed".

Bill Marshall has been the head teacher at Humphry Davy School in Penzance for 15 years.

He said the school had "struggled" to "recruit teachers for some time now" after the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

"When you have an area like Cornwall, the geography also counts against you.

"We could all ask for more money - but it needs to be considered. There is no point providing more teachers if you have got real difficulty in trying to actually persuade people why [they] would want to go into the profession."

He said teachers' workload, terms and conditions, and pay all influenced whether people wanted to work in schools.

He said solving the problems in education had barely been mentioned as an issue during the course of the campaign.

"It's taken such a back seat.

"I don't have any detail to suggest there is a solution. The big issues are not being addressed."

Steve Hitchcock, the head teacher of St Peter's Primary in Budleigh Salterton in Devon said he agreed.

He previously asked for help from family members to fill shortages and admitted times were still tough.

He said: "Pay has been eroded for both support staff and for teachers.

"I have just advertised for some teaching assistants. In the past, I would have had lots of applications but now it is more attractive to go and work in a supermarket - you get paid more and the expectations are a lot lower."

Candidates standing in the seat of Truro and Falmouth have told us about their priorities in education.

Ruth Gripper, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats, said: "We would put a mental health practitioner into every school and provide real terms funding increases for each year of the parliament.

"We would broaden the curriculum, give more children access to extra curricular opportunities, and give local government more funding so we can tackle the crisis in special educational needs and provision for children with disabilities."

Jayne Kirkham, who is standing for Labour, said: "Education is always a huge priority for Labour when in government.

"Really important to us are breakfast clubs in schools, and childcare. We are looking at providing 100,000 extra places in nurseries in primary schools.

"We are looking at reforming the curriculum and Skills England - a new board to govern what happens with skills training across the country."

Karen La Borde, who is the Green Party candidate, said: "We would like to see massive investment in the buildings that are falling down around children's ears.

"We want to see a further £8bn in place so we can resource our schools properly, so teachers are not choosing between biros and books and can deliver what is needed.

"We do not want to see education for league tables. We want to see education for children instead."

Independent candidate, Peter Lawrence, said: "We are not all the same and education should reflect that.

"I believe we should re-instate state-funded grammar schools for the most academically gifted and we should fully fund technical colleges for those who have more of a practical disposition.

"We need to be creative, to be thinking outside the box to create the best people."

Cherilyn Mackrory, the Conservative candidate, said: "We need to protect school spending and we also want to see the Advanced British Standard - ensuring that if you are going to go down an academic route you can, but also equally as good you can have a degree apprenticeship as well.

"That is really important for our emerging industries here in Cornwall - mining, renewable, and marine industries."

Steve Rubidge, the candidate for Reform UK, said: "Being a big university county, we are going to scrap interest rates on student loans.

"I think mental health is a massive thing amongst our school children and we should encourage more special educational needs assistants which helps vulnerable children get the help that they need."

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