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May: We will tackle Labour's classroom crisis

Shadow Education Secretary, Theresa May gave Labour a lesson in how to run the nation's education system, as the Conservatives announced plans to tackle the crisis in the classroom:

"Every parent knows the sort of school that they want their child to attend.

"They want a school that has its own distinctive ethos and identity. They want a school where teachers are able to spend time working with their child to make sure they get the best education possible. A school where the head is able to make decisions that they know are in the best interests of the children and staff.

"And they want a school that they know has a strong sense of discipline.

"This is what parents expect from our schools. Unfortunately it is not what Labour have delivered.

"Instead they have plunged our schools into crisis. There are now at least 10,000 teacher vacancies in schools across the country. We have seen classrooms closed, children sent home and class sizes of up to 94 in some areas. And many children have been subjected to a different teacher every week, as schools use supply teachers to plug the gap.

"So, lesson one.

"We will not take away your teacher. We have pledged to match the amount of money that Labour spends on teachers. This means that we will match all of the funding for extra teachers that Labour have pledged under the Comprehensive Spending Review.

"But we also understand that pay is not the primary reason that teachers join the profession. They join so that they can use the skills that they have learned to inspire our young people. They leave because this Government does not trust them to let them get on with the job.

"We will attract more teachers by allowing teachers to get on with the job that they joined to do.

"Teachers received on average a directive every working day from the beginning of last year. Survey after survey has shown that bureaucracy and paperwork are the main reasons for teachers leaving the profession.

"So, lesson two.

"We will not turn your teacher into a form-filler. Labour have degraded the craft of teaching. Conservatives will give teachers back their profession. We will scrap the endless stream of forms, circulars and directives that land on teachers' desks every day.

"We will end the belief in Whitehall that the secret to good teaching lies on the back of a government directive and we will also give them the support they need and deserve.

"We will make sure that teachers accused by a pupil retain their anonymity in the media unless and until the point where the police decide to press charges. Teachers' lives should not be ruined by mischievous or malicious accusations. Nor should teacher's lives be ruined by the threat of violence or the stress of having to cope every day with a disorderly classroom.

"So, lesson three.

"We will not leave disruptive children in class. We will give heads the ability to remove disruptive or violent pupils from the school without the threat of being fined. We will allow schools to use home-school agreements as part of their admissions criteria.

"And, we will also abolish local authority appeals panels, which too often over turn the decision of head teachers on exclusions, undermining their authority and subjecting teachers to the threat of violence.

"Finally, we will abolish the regulations that prevent heads from enforcing the basic components of the ethos of that school, such as a proper uniform.

"These are the areas where Labour has failed our children and these are the steps that a Conservative Government will take to solve the crisis in our schools.

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