Teacher recruitment and retention, workload, marking and inspection will be among the key issues up for debate when the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) holds its annual conference this weekend.
Members will assemble in Birmingham tomorrow to discuss the impact of government policy on children and young people.
The conference will take an unexpected turn on Saturday after education secretary Nicky Morgan confounded expectations and accepted an invitation to speak. She will be the first Conservative education secretary to address the event since Gillian Shepherd was heckled by members in 1997.
Ms Morgan came under fire last year for refusing to attend the ATL’s conference. The last time an education secretary addressed the NASUWT conference was when Ed Balls attended in 2010.
General secretary Chris Keates said members would be in a “determined mood”, and prepared to send a message that education is “in peril”.
She said: “It comes as no surprise to the NASUWT that high on the agenda of teachers and school leaders is the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, which is being driven by deep cuts to pay, increases in pension contributions and excessive workload.”
Ms Keates said school funding had also been identified as a “key issue”, and added that the debate would be timely given recent announcements in the budget and education white paper.
“The teachers and school leaders gathering in Birmingham…will be sending a strong message to parents, the public and to politicians that our great public education service is in peril from government policies which fail to recognise the importance of education to the life chances of our children and young people and to the economic future of the country.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We know unnecessary workload is one of the biggest frustrations for teachers.
“That’s why we are working with the profession and education experts to take action on the root causes of teacher workload, including looking in depth at the three biggest concerns teachers have raised – marking, planning and resources and data management, and through the first biennial teacher workload survey.”
Throughout the event, the NASUWT will publish a series of reports, one into the impact of financial hardship on children’s education and others into flexible working and social media abuse.
For live coverage of Nicky Morgan’s speech, follow @SchoolsWeekLive on twitter from 10am on Saturday.