ASCL writes to party leaders to call for a better deal for education

The Association of School and College Leaders has today written to the leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties calling on them to commit to a better deal for education. The letter from ASCL General Secretary Pepe Di’Iasio is part of our #EducationMatters campaign in the run-up to the General Election.
The letter says:
“I am writing to you on behalf of our 25,000 members who lead schools and colleges across the UK to ask you to commit to a better deal for education. The General Election on 4 July offers an opportunity for the new government and parliament to see education as an investment in the future – of children and of the country – rather than as a cost to be managed.
“We have a very good education system, thanks to the tireless work of our brilliant education staff. But it is under severe strain because of the shortage of sufficient funding and teachers, and wider social issues which are impacting upon children and young people, such as the high rate of child poverty in the UK, and the pressure on local support services, including mental health and social care, which often cannot meet the demands on them. Schools and colleges have become a de facto fourth emergency service, endeavouring to fill these gaps, while struggling with a lack of critical resources.
“The special educational needs system in particular needs urgent attention as available funding is demonstrably not sufficient to meet needs and this is resulting in delays in assessment and the provision of support to the most vulnerable children. The fact that huge amounts of public money are currently being spent on managing high-needs deficits via ‘safety valve agreements’ rather than on meeting the needs of children is a situation that is close to madness. We ask that, as an immediate step, you back our calls to draw a line under these deficits and get the money to where it will make a difference.
“While providing a great education system is not only a question of money, it cannot be avoided that sustainable funding is the bedrock upon which everything else depends. It is not only the current financial situation in schools and colleges that is extremely worrying, but also the fact that the projected public spending plans for the next parliament are unrealistic and will leave public services once again facing an age of austerity. We ask you to set out in clear terms that your party will do everything possible to avoid this from happening and that if you are in government you will revisit these plans at the earliest opportunity.
“This really is a pivotal moment in the modern history of the UK where to choose the current path will make it increasingly difficult to provide the standard of education and range of provision that parents rightly expect, while an affirmative choice to invest in the future will produce great dividends for our economic and social prosperity.
“We ask you to commit to improving the life chances of all children and young people, regardless of background and starting point, and to demonstrate an ambitious vision for our nation which puts future generations at the heart of policymaking.
“Please do take a look at our 10 asks for education. We would be very happy to answer any questions you may have.”