Whiteman’s Wishlist: NAHT boss sets out his demands to ministers

The NAHT school leaders’ union will hold its annual general meeting today, with general secretary Paul Whiteman due to take the stand for a big speech on what headteachers want to see from government.

The meeting, which would normally coincide with the union’s annual conference, is taking place virtually because of the pandemic.

Here’s what Whiteman wants to see from ministers.


1. Reverse pupil premium change and reimburse Covid costs

Whiteman will warn today that government spending commitments for education looked “unambitious” before the Covid crisis and now look “woefully inadequate”.

He will point to Education Policy Institute research which found that recovery would cost between £10 billion and £15 billion. The government has so far allocated £1.7 billion for catch-up.

But he will also warn the government seems “intent on clawing back funding from schools”, citing the pupil premium funding change.

“They have saved millions by changing the date that pupil premium data was collected,” he will say, adding that the government should “come clean immediately about this saving” and “instantly repay all that they have taken from school budgets in this way”.

Government should also “fully reimburse schools and colleges for every penny of what has needed to be spent on Covid secure measures”.

Paul Whiteman NAHT
Paul Whiteman

2. Restore pay to ‘pre-austerity levels’

Whiteman will say the pay freeze for most staff announced last year is “tin-eared and wrong-headed”, adding that “no government should design policies where public servants are paid less and less year on year”.

He will call on the government to restore pay to “pre-austerity levels”, and establish a pay continuum “covering all leadership roles”, and resolve pay inequalities and “restore the pay differential for leaders”.

The NAHT will also support a review of the leadership pay structure to align school business leaders’ pay with other leadership roles, Whiteman will add, saying Covid has highlighted how important business leaders are.


3. Leaders need pay for extended school day

The government has said it is considering proposals for extending the school day in order to help pupils catch up.

Sir Kevan Collins, the government’s education recovery commissioner, has said he would “never advocate” increasing the number of hours taught by teachers “without increasing the amount of pay that teachers receive”.

But Whiteman will warn that “if the school day is lengthened, leaders will see workload increase too”.

“They will be ones who have to manage and administer whatever is demanded,” he will add.

“If the government’s recovery commissioner’s wishes are to be honoured, then any leader who is working extra, should be paid extra too.”


4. Better support for early career teachers

Whiteman will say that the “most effective thing you can do to ‘turbo-charge’ the recovery mission is to have high quality teaching going on in schools”.

The government’s early career framework reforms are “a start”, but need “proper investment”, especially as newly-qualified teachers will be starting this autumn in “particularly difficult circumstances”, he will add.

He said the government must guarantee that all schools will have “sufficient funding to develop and support their staff, whilst providing easy access to high quality training providers”.

He also called on ministers to extend the commitment to funded support to all teachers and leaders by 2025, as part of a “new CPD entitlement for all”.


5. Reduce stress and end ‘centralised diktats’

Although leaders do not cite financial reward as the reason for choosing to work in education, that “should not give the government the right to take school leaders for granted”, Whiteman will warn.

But because the government does this, the leadership supply line “is in crisis” and “too many experienced leaders are looking to leave, too few middle leaders aspire to headship”.

As well as working on “reducing stress and attrition” in leadership roles, there also needs to be an end to “centralised diktats from government that sap the expertise, energy, and life out of leadership”.


6. Exams 2022 plan ‘B’ needed by end of summer term

The government has come under increasing pressure to say what changes it will make to 2022 exams to take into account learning missed by current year 10 and 12 pupils.

Whiteman will say today there “must be adaptations to account for disruption to their learning too”, adding there “must be a clear plan B in place by the end of the summer term this year”.

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