Education should be at heart of this election, not Brexit – headteachers at Islington hustings

NAHT election hustings. From left: Cllr Carline Russell (Green), Yosef David (Brexit Party), James C

NAHT election hustings. From left: Cllr Carline Russell (Green), Yosef David (Brexit Party), James Clarke (Conservatives). chair, Nick Wakeling (Lib Dems) and Kaya Comer-Schwartz (Labour). Picture: Katherine Gemmell - Credit: Archant

A headteachers’ union urged candidates in Jeremy Corbyn’s long-held Islington constituency to focus on education rather than Brexit last week.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) argued a general election motivated by a European agenda ignored the pressing state of the UK's education system.

The remarks were made at an education hustings event at Mildmay Community Centre, with Islington North's prospective MPs in attendance.

Rob Kelsall, of the NAHT, said: "We are very keen on ensuring all political parties have education at the heart of their manifestos and commitments, to ensure people are given the skills and support that they need."

Islington's children's chief Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz represented Labour in place of Mr Corbyn. She was joined by Green candidate Cllr Caroline Russell, Brexit Party's Yosef David, Conservative James Clark and Liberal Democrat Nick Wakeling.

The funding crisis currently facing English schools was a key point of discussion. The Institute of Fiscal Studies said funding had been cut by 8 per cent since 2010, driven by a 57pc reduction in spending per pupil on services provided by local authorities. The National Education Union also released figures showing 83pc of schools will be worse off next year than they were in 2015.

Cllr Comer-Schwartz, said: "We have put out a fully-costed plan about how to rebuild our education system, as well as our handling system, our NHS, our local authorities - all of these things are interlinked."

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Other topics includedprovisions for further education, special schools, SATs and Ofsted inspections at schools. Cllr Russell placed her focus on the climate emergency and Islington's school's participation in Greta Thunberg's school strikes.

Brexit's Mr David said he believes we have to show our children an example by following through with Brexit.

Mr Wakeling spoke about the value of teachers and that we need to stop Brexit as it will impact the ability to put money into education. Mr Clark pleaded for a pragmatic attitude as he railed against Labour's "free-money" policies and expressed that he thinks they won't be able to fund their promises.