The Coalition Government’s policies on immigration, academies and free schools threaten to segregate communities and could undermine educational standards in schools according to a major conference being hosted by the NASUWT today.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“We all benefit daily from the rich diversity of languages, faiths and cultures in our schools and society and it is important that this is recognised, valued and celebrated.
“There are those who would seek to exploit this diversity in the vain hope of sowing the seeds of suspicion, social division, racism and hatred. We must not let these forces succeed.
“The hallmark of a comprehensive system of education is that it is inclusive and provides equal rights and entitlements for all children and young people and for the workforce in schools.
“Educational inclusion and equality are under threat from the Government’s policy to promote free schools and academies, which could create social segregation and apartheid in our schools.
“The Government’s plans to cap immigration could also seriously undermine educational provision and heighten racial and religious intolerance.
“The UK benefits massively from the contribution of migrant workers in all sectors of the economy who make a major economic contribution and provide the services on which we all depend.
“Limiting the number of workers from overseas entering the UK also threatens to undermine educational standards, particularly in shortage subject areas.
“We cannot afford to close the doors on skilled overseas trained teachers if we are to secure the UK’s economic recovery.”
Jonathan Ellis, Director of Policy and Development at the Refugee Council, said:
“We are delighted to have linked up with the NASUWT to highlight the importance of ensuring schools are more culturally aware, racially tolerant and welcoming to refugees living in the UK.
“Refugees can bring so much to the life of a school as pupils, parents, carers, and teaching staff, yet we work on a daily basis with refugee children and qualified refugee teachers who too often face barriers to the UK education system.
“Working together with government, schools and training providers, it must be made easier for refugees who qualified as teachers in other countries to teach here so that we can make the most of a huge pool of talent, especially in subjects where teachers are in demand. Particularly important in the current climate, this would also ensure that refugee teachers can more easily integrate and contribute to our society.
“What’s more, this will help children from refugee and multicultural backgrounds to feel welcome and accepted in our classrooms and add value to the education of all our children.”