We want to work with Labour to break down the barriers to opportunity

NEU general secretary Daniel Kebede comments on Labour Party election win

5 Jul 2024| News

Commenting on the landslide win by Labour, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

 ‘The NEU congratulates the Labour Party on its election victory. We are looking forward to working with the new Government.

After 14 years of neglect of education, it is plain for all to see the damage that underinvestment in education has done to the life chances of our children and young people. We want to work with Labour to break down the barriers to opportunity.

After the chaos and disrespect that a succession of Conservatives ministers has shown the profession, Labour’s comments about wanting to reset the relationship between Ministers and education professionals will be music to our members ears.

The new Government does not have an easy inheritance and we are realistic that Labour won’t be able to overturn 14 years of damage overnight. But, at the same time, we know that Labour will need to inject significantly more funding into education than it promised if it is to match the level of ambition needed to achieve a truly outstanding system. 

70% of schools are now worse off than they were the last time Labour were in office. As a country, we now spend a paltry 3.9% of GDP on education as opposed to 5.5% in 2010. As a result, many schools are literally falling down and there are more than a million pupils being taught in classes of 30 or more, the highest figure since 2001. Our young people are paying the price for an unprecedented teacher recruitment and retention crisis – driven by excessive workload and real terms decline in wages – that risks bringing education to its knees.

The voices of education professionals must be central to Labour’s promised reviews of assessment, accountability and curriculum. The current regime is a hindrance to teaching and learning. A modernised curriculum should also guarantee access to the arts for all, delivered by expert teachers.

Breaking down barriers to opportunity must start with the understanding that poverty is still the biggest obstacle to learning and achievement. More than four million children in our schools now live below the poverty line. We welcome Labour’s commitment to breakfast clubs but it should also follow the example of Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Labour Government in Wales and introduce universal free school meals across primary schools. Scrapping the two-child benefit cap would lift a quarter of a million children out of poverty at a stroke and should be a priority for the new Government.

The NEU stands ready to work with Labour to ensure that we have the policies and funding in place to give every child the education they deserve”.