Neither the interests of teachers, nor of children, are advanced by industrial action. By encouraging its members to strike, the NUT is playing politics with our children's futures, at a time when the Government is trying to work constructively with the teaching profession to deliver educational excellence.
The Government is protecting the core schools budget, which will be at its highest ever level next year. The Queen's speech included plans for the New National Funding Formula, which I trust will bring a fairer balance to our school system. Excellent educational attainment should not be based on where a child lives, and Ministers are committed to improving all young people's life chances, regardless of their background or circumstances.
In 2010, one in three young people left primary school unable to read, write and add up properly, while the number of children studying core academic subjects had halved. Britain's education standards had remained static whilst other countries have moved ahead. That is why it is so vital to build and extend on the reforms already put in place by the Government.
I recognise that it is not the case that every academy performs better than every local-authority school. However, the academy system makes it easier to put in place better teaching, leadership, curriculums and accountability, which incontrovertibly drive up standards. 1.4 million more children are now in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 and last year's GCSE results show that secondary converter academies are performing above the national average when it comes to achieving five or more good GCSEs.
It is right to give headteachers the freedom to set pay. The arrangements provide increased flexibility for schools to develop pay policies tailored to their particular needs. These arrangements are in place to make it easier for schools to recruit and retain good teachers.
The Government places enormous value and trust in the professionalism and skills of the teaching workforce, as do I. The Government is committed to reducing the burdens upon teachers and enabling them to focus on what really matters in the classroom, teaching and learning.