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Government told to met its rhetoric on ‘levelling up’ with action

NAHT general secretary called on Education Secretary not to exhaust school leaders’ goodwill

THE government’s rhetoric on “levelling up” and the importance of education must be backed up with action, a school leaders’ union leader urged yesterday.

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman called on Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi not to exhaust school leaders’ goodwill by making engagement with the profession “nothing more than window dressing.”

His plea came in a speech at the union’s conference in London.

Mr Whiteman highlighted the “false and damaging narrative” that some policy-makers used amid the pandemic which suggested teachers were “lazy,” claiming the people who used those words should be ashamed.

He called for the government’s goals for education recovery for children who have missed out on schooling to be more “ambitious.”

On Thursday, when challenged over the funding put into helping children, Mr Zahawi said that pupils will catch up with the schooling they missed during Covid-19 by the end of this Parliament.

In his conference speech yesterday, Mr Whiteman said: “While I am encouraged by the language of levelling up, the language that no child should be left behind and the language of just how important education is, I am continually left disappointed that the rhetoric is not backed up by action.

“I won’t quickly forget, nor will I fail to remind those in power, of the false and damaging narrative some of them used.”

The school leaders’ union leader claimed that the profession “stands ready to work” with the new Education Secretary, but said they must be listened to.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said that the government recognises the vital service that head teachers and school staff have provided and ministers have committed to an ambitious long-term education recovery plan, investing over £3 billion. 

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