Europe

UK school policies failing generation: Union

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The UK government’s education policies are damaging the life chances of a generation of children and must be overhauled, a leader of a major teaching union warns.

Mark Barker, the new president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said Sunday that British children will lose out due to the Coalition government’s “competition agenda.”

Unless new policies are introduced, “more and more children will lose out as education policy continues to be based on the survival of the fittest, with school pitted against school, staff against staff, and parent against parent,” said Baker.

In addition, Baker accused Prime Minister David Cameron’s government of encouraging schools “to act like businesses…with children as the products.”

“You can’t then be surprised if schools focus on children in the middle because the least resources bring the greatest returns in terms of exam grades and a good position in the school league tables,” said Baker.

The union leader also said that the intense competition between schools to prove themselves was having a negative impact on relationships within schools to children’s disadvantage.

“The sense of autonomy has been lost by teachers because school leaders issue directions and teachers just have to do as they are told,” said Baker, adding, “Schools have lost the benefit of a team approach and the generation of lots of ideas.”

Baker called on teachers, lecturers and support staff to “take back our profession.”

“I see it as make or break – we’re at a fork in the road where we have the tensions of big business against the ideals of a profession,” argued Baker.

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