Justine Greening: the most ‘important job’ in the cabinet

There are four key priorities for the new Secretary of State for Education, says National Association of Head Teachers

Justine Greening MP has been named as the successor to Nicky Morgan as Secretary of State for Education, following Ms Morgan’s sacking from the cabinet.

Ms Greening, the first education secretary to have attended a comprehensive school – Oakwood Comprehensive School in Rotherham – then went on to the University of Southampton and The London Business School. She has been a member of parliament since 2005.

Commenting on the cabinet reshuffle, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “We welcome Justine Greening to the post of Secretary of State for Education, Women and Equalities, the most important job in the Cabinet.

We need a new level of engagement: a bright idea in Whitehall can look very different played out across 20,000 schools in a huge range of circumstances

“Now that the government and the DfE are under new management, there is a clear opportunity to take an honest look at the past six years and address the emerging challenges of the next six. The challenges of the future are challenges of capacity – recruitment, funding and planning. We also need a new level of engagement: a bright idea in Whitehall can look very different played out across 20,000 schools in a huge range of circumstances.’

NAHT believes the priorities for the remainder are this parliament are very clear:

1. Assessment must be overhauled to avoid a repeat of the chaos and confusion of this year’s changes.
Assessment is a vital component of good teaching but the results this year have achieved the worst of all possible worlds; meaningless data and nearly half of all children incorrectly branded as failures by eleven years old. The data must not be published and the plans for Year Seven resits should be abandoned.

2. The introduction of a new national funding formula cannot be delayed.
The final part of the consultation must be released by the end of term otherwise plans will be put back another year, with hugely negative consequences for school budgets and the standards of children’s education.

3. Allow good and outstanding schools the freedom to remain part of their Local Authority if they choose.
The government has not won the argument on academies, so it should stop arguing and agree with the overwhelming evidence that school structures don’t make a bit of difference to the things that matter; proper support for struggling schools, a recruitment plan that guarantees enough well-paid and high quality teachers and sufficient school places to meet the increase in the pupil population that we know is coming.

4. Protected curriculum time for PSHE in all schools.
Unless we see PSHE on the curriculum, children will never learn all the skills they need for life outside school. Number 10 opposed statutory PSHE, despite loud protests from just about everyone who works with children.

Mr Hobby concluded by saying: “NAHT has always campaigned positively and worked constructively with government and we will continue to do so. We wish Nicky Morgan well and look forward to working with the Department for Education and Downing Street in the months ahead, providing challenge and support from our position as school leaders.”

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