Headteachers consider strikes over funding concerns

On 3 – 5 May, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) held their annual conference at the International Centre, Telford.

Addressing delegates, Judy Shaw, who was recently appointed as NAHT’s president, voiced her concerns over school funding and rebuked the “misleading and disingenuous” notion that schools are receiving more money than ever. NAHT members also backed a motion contemplating potential industrial action and refusing to make staff redundancies or reduce staff terms and conditions to balance budgets.

The union also voted in an overwhelming majority to call on the Department for Education (DfE) to make the key stage two spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) test optional for schools which has been criticised for restricting children’s creativity and leaving ‘pupils too scared to write’. In her speech at the conference, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman suggested that similar concerns of the “teach to test” mentality in schools would be abandoned in favour of restoring ‘Ofsted’s former focus on curriculum’ in its new framework.

Education secretary Damian Hinds was also in attendance at the conference. He announced a call for evidence on funding for SEND and alternative provision pupils. He also outlined the DfE’s plans to use Ofsted’s “requires improvement” category as the single method for identifying schools in need of support, thereby “simplifying accountability”.