NGA has today unveiled its manifesto, "From Classrooms to Communities: A Manifesto for Schools and Trusts." This comprehensive document outlines key challenges faced by schools and academy trusts in the UK and presents a set of bold proposals aimed at addressing these issues.
Governing boards play a pivotal role in overseeing academy trusts and schools, providing strategic direction, and holding senior leaders accountable. NGA's manifesto is a result of the 2023 annual governance survey, the concerns and voices of its members and their extensive experience supporting school and trust governing boards in the school sector. It recognises the challenges faced by schools and their communities and highlights the indispensable role of trustees and governors who work tirelessly to set the vision, culture, and strategic priorities to ensure the sustainability of trusts and schools.
Key Highlights from the Manifesto
- Staff Wellbeing and Recruitment: The manifesto highlights the persistent challenges of recruitment and retention in the education sector. It calls for a comprehensive, long-term plan for pay and incentives for all staff to address the salary deficit and promote careers in education. Furthermore, the manifesto stresses the importance of improving diversity within the workforce.
- Estates and Environmental Sustainability: NGA emphasises the need for a long-term program to remove hazardous materials from schools and invest in school estates. Modernising energy provision in schools is also a top priority, given the substantial contribution of schools to UK public sector building emissions. Leadership capacity and funding access are identified as crucial barriers to progress.
- Ed Tech: The manifesto underlines the significance of equal access to Ed-tech resources for all students, regardless of their economic background or geographical location. It calls on the government to ensure that funding is distributed equitably and emphasises the importance of safeguarding educational institutions against potential misuse of AI in education.
- Attendance: Attendance remains a significant challenge in the education sector. The manifesto acknowledges the government's efforts to address this issue but emphasises the importance of engaging with families and communities to improve attendance rates. Effective communication and advice to parents are highlighted as successful methods for enhancing attendance.
- Safeguarding: The manifesto acknowledges a concerning rise in safeguarding concerns, including bullying, cyberbullying, neglect, and domestic abuse, with 71% of respondents reporting an increase in 2022 and 55% in 2023. NGA calls for the restoration of funding for children's early intervention support, emphasising the unsustainable pressure on schools.
- Support Services for Families: As schools increasingly provide additional services, NGA calls for a review of expectations and resources, advocating for the Family Hub model's continued rollout to provide holistic support for young children and their families.
- Funding: The manifesto stresses the need for funding to address both the sustainability of high-quality education and the additional needs of vulnerable groups.
- SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities): NGA calls for the urgent implementation of the 2022 SEND green paper, funding reform, an audit of special school places, and a consistent approach to training.
- Disadvantage: The manifesto highlights the widening disadvantage gap due to the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for the protection of the pupil premium's value and the extension of FSM eligibility to all pupils receiving Universal Credit.
- Pupil Mental Health and Wellbeing: NGA emphasises the increasing need for mental health support in schools and urges the government to prioritise the provision of such support and access to specialist services.
- Leadership and Accountability: The manifesto welcomes changes in inspections but expresses concerns about their impact on school leaders and staff. NGA calls for an independent, expert, and transparent review of the inspection process and greater recognition of the role of governing boards. Additionally, it calls for a recruitment campaign to address the governance recruitment crisis.
NGA's manifesto highlights the importance of governance, sustainability, technology, and family engagement in our education system. It is a clear call to action for the government to actively implement these proposals, ensuring they meet the needs of all young people and communities.
With the 2024 general election on the horizon, education policies will become a key focus. NGA's manifesto is positioned to play a significant role in shaping the national conversation about the future of education in the UK. Keep an eye out for updates and reactions as this vital manifesto gains momentum in the months ahead.