ASCL comment on government attendance drive

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Department for Education press release on an attendance drive as the new term starts for millions of pupils.
We welcome the government’s focus on improving pupil attendance through a number of measures – although these are already largely done by schools, trusts and local authorities. However, we are deeply concerned that there is no recognition in the government’s various back-to-school announcements of the funding crisis facing schools and colleges – much less any action to address this crucial issue.

“Schools and colleges face massive hikes in energy bills together with staff pay awards for which there is no additional government funding. The impact of these cost pressures will be devastating unless the government wakes up to this problem and makes available extra financial support. It will inevitably lead to cuts to teaching and support staff which will mean larger class sizes, fewer curriculum options, and reduced pupil support.

“In the meantime, the government seems to be pre-occupied with its distant and vague plans to have every school in a multi-academy trust rather than the immediate crisis which is actually happening right now. The government is fiddling while Rome burns.