A Labour government would start a “new partnership” with teachers based on respect for their professionalism and integrity, according to the party’s education spokesman Tristram Hunt.
Speaking at the NASUWT annual conference in Cardiff today, Mr Hunt said teachers needed a “new deal” to put the trust back into the relationship with ministers.
He warned the English education system could “grind to a halt” if something wasn’t done to tackle the “exhausting workload” that was making teachers lives “miserable” and forcing them to leave the profession.
After Mr Hunt’s address, NASUWT delegates unanimously passed a motion condemning “excessive workload and working hours”, which it said was adversely affecting teachers’ health and wellbeing and contributing to a “growing crisis” in recruitment.
Mr Hunt pledged to make teaching attractive again, allowing teachers to “reconnect with the beauty of education”, by ending “ceaseless initiative-itis and constant tinkering” and starting the process of “mass devolution” of responsibility and power to profession-led bodies.
He said Labour would transform Ofsted into a “supportive, constructive peer review body” led by heads and teachers.
He also attacked the criticisms levelled at the teaching profession over the last five years.
“I don’t understand why this government has set out deliberately to portray the teaching profession in such a negative light,” he said.
“What justification can there possibly be for government to denigrate public servants in this manner?
“I promise you this deplorable, hostile, almost militaristic rhetoric towards this profession dies alongside this Tory government.”
He also promised a Labour government would end the free schools programme and rule out for-profit state schools.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates welcomed Mr Hunt’s comments.
She said: “It is clear from the vision of education you have shared with us today that, unlike the coalition government, Labour has a clear understanding of what education is for and that quality public education for all must be an unequivocal goal of government and setting clear expectations by way of entitlements for all learners.”