MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jul-16 10:05:34

Guest post: Nicky Morgan – "Strike action will harm children's education"

While primary teacher Megan Quinn says teachers have no choice but to strike, the Education Secretary says they are playing politics instead of focusing on giving children the best start in life

Nicky Morgan

Secretary of State for Education

Posted on: Tue 05-Jul-16 10:05:34

(119 comments )

Lead photo

"To suggest we aren't prioritising school funding is disingenuous."

I am disappointed that the National Union of Teachers has chosen the path of disruption over negotiation and discussion. I believe this strike action is unnecessary and counterproductive – it will harm children's education, inconvenience parents and damage the profession's reputation in the eyes of the public.

We are already in regular and constructive talks with the NUT and, as I said when I attended the first meeting in May, I am committed to these talks and firmly hope that they will be meaningful and productive. Rather than playing politics with children's futures over the issue of pay and conditions, I urged the NUT to reconsider this damaging industrial action. Instead we should all be focused on giving children the best start in life and spreading educational excellence everywhere.

It has been clearly outlined in our conversations that the removal of unnecessary workload for teachers is a priority for this government , and our extensive work with the NUT, along with the wider profession, is helping to ensure that teachers can concentrate on what they do best.

The NUT has said that the Government has the wrong priorities for teachers, schools and children. To suggest we aren't prioritising school funding is disingenuous; the significance we place on education is demonstrated by the fact that we are investing more than any previous government on our schools. This year the schools budget will total around £40billion, an increase of around £4billion since 2011-12, so it is now the highest it has ever been. Additionally, the schools budget has been protected in real terms going forward. At a time when other areas of spending are having to be reduced in order to control the public finances, education has rightly been protected, reflecting precisely where our priorities lie.

At a time when other areas of spending are having to be reduced in order to control the public finances, education has rightly been protected, reflecting precisely where our priorities lie.


It is also disappointing that the underpinning basis for this strike seems to be teacher pay. Average teacher pay is £37,800. Last week's school workforce figures showed that teaching continues to be an attractive career with more teachers in our schools than ever before – 15,000 more since 2010 – demonstrating how many people relish the prospect of a career where they can transform lives every day.

Under the academy system, schools have more flexibility to reward teachers for their hard work, allowing them to keep their best staff and recruit the brightest talent. We remain committed to our vision for an academy-run system where the best school leaders are free to innovate and run their schools how they choose. This commitment is fully funded. Taking the Spending Review and the Budget together, we have set aside the funding to support a high quality, school system where every school is an academy. Overall, we have made £600 million available in this Parliament to build capacity – including recruiting excellent sponsors and encouraging the development of strong multi-academy trusts.

Teachers are integral to our vision of delivering educational excellence everywhere and, thanks to their hard work, over 1.4 million more children are in good or outstanding schools than in August 2010. We will always listen and discuss legitimate concerns within the sector and try to resolve them as quickly and fairly as possible.

By Nicky Morgan

Twitter: @NickyMorgan01

honeysucklejasmine Tue 05-Jul-16 11:32:53

£37k average pay?! Maybe if you include academy heads on £100k+. In reality, your average teacher will reach an absolute maximum of £36k ish without any responsibility. After all, if we were all department heads and SLT, who'd do the actual teaching?

My county is grossly underfunded. We receive approx £2k per child less than more urban areas. But running a school costs exactly same, no matter where it is.

Flisspaps Tue 05-Jul-16 11:48:25

Damn teachers, expecting a magic money tree. How dare they expect properly resources schools and acceptable workloads in order to reasonably educate the next generation hmm

Imagine if someone could only find a way of raising sufficient additional finance to support what teachers really need to deliver the education they WANT to deliver and that our children deserve (instead of having someone tinkering around the edges and telling them effectively to suck it up), perhaps by increasing Corporation Tax or something?

LurkingQuietly Tue 05-Jul-16 12:18:32

From a non-teacher, what I see to be "unnecessary and counterproductive" is this Governments attitude towards education. When was the last time you stepped inside a school? When was the last time you actually listened to a teacher or an expert on what works for children? What works for children? Why are we testing 6 and 11 year olds? I should be looking forward to my son starting school, instead I'm dreading it because of the ridiculous hoops YOU are insisting he and his teachers will have to jump through.

I have nothing but contempt for you.

mummytime Tue 05-Jul-16 12:19:52

How is a one day strike at this part of the school year going to really affect any child's education?
In my experience children are exhausted, and the learning happening now is mainly the more exploratory and fun learning that is squeezed for the rest of the year. And most children are still at school.

BusStopBetty Tue 05-Jul-16 12:21:53

Do you know what really harms education? Spending weeks coaching children for tests that they can't pass anyway because the goalposts have been moved so far they're practically in Australia.

BertPuttocks Tue 05-Jul-16 12:32:38

"Instead we should all be focused on giving children the best start in life and spreading educational excellence everywhere."

Schools would find this a hell of a lot easier if the government wasn't so busy moving the goalposts every 5 minutes. There's barely time to get used to one system before a new one is introduced, all without bothering to consult the people who will actually be delivering this.

I'm not a teacher but I support their actions.

kscience Tue 05-Jul-16 12:36:11

More damage is caused to the education of children by having exhausted teachers with ridiculous workloads...you remember the survey that you ignored...never ending testing (to quote one of my kids "what another exam would help if you had time to teach us miss")...putting data before pupils....changing the curriculum to be come "more rigorous" without releasing specs to teachers until a year after they have started delivering them...and not being able to recruit or retain good staff....allowing unqualified teachers...performance related pay (who wants to work in a demanding school with lower than average performance due to factors outside the classroom when they will face a pay cut for not reaching achievable targets?)

I am an experienced (14yrs) teacher, rated as outstanding, leading a department which shows outstanding progress, in a school which has won accolades, awards and most improved school etc etc, has good management...but am walking away from the madness...and taking all my experience and knowledge with me out of the education system.

GOOD JOB NICKY

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 05-Jul-16 12:38:03

I think rather more likely that it will be you who harms children's educations as you drive experienced, dedicated teachers from the profession with your ridiculous policies.

I suppose you're only following in the anti-intellectual footsteps of your atrocious predecessor though so what else could be expected?

mathsmum314 Tue 05-Jul-16 13:03:58

Why are 'Free Schools' no longer free? We escaped a failing council only to find civil servants are worse dictators and the education department is useless. Bring back 'Free Schools' and let the people who know what they are doing run them.

I don't support the teachers strike, they are just shaking the magic money tree but the education department needs to be put in special measures, its so bad it's almost criminal.

minifingerz Tue 05-Jul-16 13:34:01

What do most politicians care?

Their children don't attend the same sort of schools that most of our kids go to and the majority of rich Tory donors, doctors, lawyers, industrialists, senior civil servants, basically anyone (including media people) in any position of power or influence are likely not to have their children in it either, so that don't really care.

megletthesecond Tue 05-Jul-16 13:53:04

No Nicky. I think you'll find it's the Tories who are hurting children's education. Cutting budgets while increasing stress, change for the sake of change and heavier workloads to teachers and pupils. I'm a working single parent and I support the teachers strike every step of the way.

redcaryellowcar Tue 05-Jul-16 14:05:55

Dear Nicky,
I think you are missing the point in your post.
Teachers are worried about far more than budgets. One of their key concerns is that you are committed to every school becoming an academy, this is not great financially as money is seeping out of your budget into things it shouldn't, you are effectively privatising education and by such means allowing head teachers to claim enormous salaries leaving very little budget for other staff and materials.
Staff are worried about the curriculum you have introduced, not because they are incapable of teaching it but because the children are not ready to learn it but is often hard to see how it's necessary or appropriate, children don't need to know what a digraph is, they need to know what sound 'sh' makes when they read it.
They don't believe external formalised testing is necessary, because they as professionals are constantly looking at where the children in their class(es) are and modifying their teaching accordingly. That is bespoke education, you are suggesting a one size fits all education, I recently read a lovely article which started saying children are not based to be filled but fires to be lit. I'm not suggesting no assessment, but why not stick to an end of schooling exam eg gcse, which would be a summary at that point. With all the movement that occurs in schools, parents moving in and out of areas regular assessments are in danger of only shownng schools are successful in areas where people rarely move in or out?
Teachers also want to protect their profession, they want trained people working alongside them and teaching their own children, they want to be certain that all children are taught be qualified people.
And finally please don't lecture teachers on the inconvenience of striking for parents, only two weeks ago numerous schools am were closed for the European referendum and are also closed for elections too.

Everytimeref Tue 05-Jul-16 14:07:42

If you had to go through as many hoops as I have to each day just to prove which way I intend to teach, how I am going to adapt it for each individual child. What the impact was the previous time I taught this knowledge etc etc. You would understand why i am on strike. I dont want more money I want less paperwork and more time and resources so I can actually teaching.

Everytimeref Tue 05-Jul-16 14:10:28

* teach. Not teaching!

AllMyBestFriendsAreMetalheads Tue 05-Jul-16 14:10:55

Is Nicky Morgan going to even read these responses, let alone answer any? Assuming she even wrote it

The people playing politics with children's educations are not the teachers - it's the politicians.

oldbirdy Tue 05-Jul-16 14:27:30

Nicky, as an educational psychologist I am really concerned about 'my' children. Children with dyspraxia, dysgraphia, dyslexia, aspergers - none of which necessarily impact on how academically able a child is - are being branded 'failures' because of the ridiculous 'all boxes ticked or they haven't made it' end of key stage assessments. Children who have genuine specific difficulties in handwriting or spelling who may as well give up because without a 'best fit' they are going to be 'sub par' all the way through school - EVEN IF THEY ARE THE CLEVEREST IN THE CLASS. My son is 14 and has severe handwriting difficulties in the context of aspergers. He is one of the best in his selective grammar school in maths, science, and IT. Yet if he were a current year 6 he would be going to secondary school as 'below expectations' despite being way above expectations in everything except his specific handwriting issue. How is it fair to pull a child down to the level of their lowest attainment? How is that in any way motivating? How does it reflect the actual child in any way? Conversely, I have a very talented mathematician in my younger son who is now bored rigid because he is absolutely not allowed to stray from the year 3 curriculum, despite the fact that at home he is devising pascal's triangles and working out factorials.

I observed two SEN children doing the year 6 SPAG. Frankly, it was an exercise in humiliation. Neither got a single mark in the spelling test. Do you know nothing about anxiety, about how a couple of reassuringly easy questions at the start help scared children relax and do their best as they work through a paper?

Why won't the government listen to those people who know children? You can increase rigour in a curriculum without throwing away any regard for composition, style and flow and turning writing into a situation where a child who writes by formula with no skill can attain higher than a child who writes skillfully from the heart without including enough linguistic devices to tick boxes.

It's very sad and I have never known a year where so many dedicated teachers are walking away from a career they love. This has to tell you something. Please listen.

noblegiraffe Tue 05-Jul-16 14:35:45

It is also disappointing that the underpinning basis for this strike seems to be teacher pay.

Disingenuous. You know that we're only allowed to strike over pay and conditions.

What teachers are actually wanting to do is draw attention to the collossal mess the Tories have made of education.

While you're here, Nicky, please can you confirm that you will be doing a U-turn on the appalling proposal to label Y6 students who don't meet the new, ridiculously high expected level in their KS2 SATs 'failures' who will be forced to resit their SATs just a term into their secondary education?

borntobequiet Tue 05-Jul-16 14:58:25

I teach Functional Maths to apprentices. We look at the way statistics can be used and misused, particularly by selectively choosing between median and mean to misrepresent real life situations.
Thanks, Nicky, for giving me an up to date, topical example which I will put into use immediately.

prettybird Tue 05-Jul-16 14:59:54

Is Nicky Morgan going to even read these responses, let alone answer any?

I for one have done the opposite: read the responses but refuse to read her doublespeak carefully crafted half-truths grin

Far more sense from the people at the sharp end! smile

But at least I'm only reading out of curiosity and bemusement rather than despair, as I'm in Scotland so shielded from her damaging actions.

Quiero Tue 05-Jul-16 15:07:05

Nicky - you and your predecessor have done more damage to our children's education than a striking teacher ever could.

I bet you're secretly pleased about the strike as it conveniently hides the farcical SATS results.

I hope whoever becomes the new PM removes you from your role. I stand strong with the NUT today.

tiggytwig Tue 05-Jul-16 15:28:18

She really doesn't care the situation about the state schools are in at the moment as long as her her own son is okay as she already stated that she hasn't ruled out in sending her own son to private school.

BoneyBackJefferson Tue 05-Jul-16 16:12:17

Nicky, are you going to continue to force schools to become academies even though there is no proof that they improve education?
Are you going to continue to say that there is no recruitment and retention crisis, with more teachers leaving than entering the profession?

I see that you are still spreading the lies about what the teachers average wages and make no mention that teaching conditions will be dependent on the whims on the academy trust that that employs the teachers.

Hastalapasta Tue 05-Jul-16 16:34:32

Bollocks Nicky.
I fully support the strike. My 6 year old sat her SATs last month. She breezed through, her teachers were amazing, she did not even know she was taking them.
But she is 6 ffs! Teachers are shattered, the PFA is constantly fundraising to support the school.
Your department is a disgrace, unsupportive of teachers, incoherent policy is spewed out year after year and I dread the future of education in this country.

OurBlanche Tue 05-Jul-16 16:39:33

LIAR

Come on Nicky Darling, show us how you get some of those facts

It has been clearly outlined in our conversations that the removal of unnecessary workload for teachers is a priority for this government Yes, on paper, it probably is a priority. You may even believe that some o the changes you have put in place have reduced that workload... like the new syllabuses (yes, that is the right spelling) that were published mere weeks before they were to be taught... even those that were removed as unfit for purpose.

The NUT has said that the Government has the wrong priorities for teachers, schools and children. To suggest we aren't prioritising school funding is disingenuous; As is slamming those 2 sentences together. The NUT hasn't said it wants more cash and only more cash... it is, as has been said over and over again, the workload. Those odd things, like SATs, you and The Goviot seem to think are vitally important, despite many teachers and ed psych saying you have changed the balance of much school life from teaching to testing AND IT DOESN'T WORK!

It is also disappointing that the underpinning basis for this strike seems to be teacher pay. There's a better use for the word 'disingenuous' Teachers are only allowed to strike for pay or workload, by law. We may say in public it is abut us, our pay and conditions. We clarify like crazy in private, and in anonymous fora... yes, it is about our ever changing workload and the effect it has on us. It is also about how much damage you are wreaking with the continued changes, half baked pseudo reasoning and frankly embarrassing errors you continue to make - tell me again how many kids you want to achieve 'above average' results? Tell me again why all kids must achieve C at GCSE maths and English - no, seriously WHY?

Average teacher pay is £37,800 ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS! And you know it. But you do like to spout this at every opportunity, just so certain pockets of society, the media etc, can have a really good reason to hate teachers and will blame them for being greedy bastards... lets you off the hook, doesn't it?

Under the academy system, schools have more flexibility to reward teachers for their hard work, allowing them to keep their best staff and recruit the brightest talent of non professional teachers, no unions, none of the hard fought for protections that be sure teachers do get paid time to prepare classes.. and on and on

And as for fully funded at what 2000 levels? Class sizes are growing again, 35 will be the new norm, 1-2-1 and SEN funding is already inadequate and the continued pay and funding freeze it can only get worse.

So I will say it again LIAR

You know it, the unions know it, teachers know it, the media know it but choose to ignore it for a better headline, many parents believe those headlines, which leave you free to lie some more and continue to dismantle teaching as a profession.

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