Guest post: "We have no choice but to strike"
While Nicky Morgan says strike action will harm children's education, teacher Megan Quinn argues that it is the only way to show the government its priorities are wrong
Primary school teacher
Posted on: Tue 05-Jul-16 10:20:26
(90 comments )
I don't like striking - I would much rather spend the day with my year six class. Unfortunately, like so many other teachers I know, I feel I have been left with no choice but to use strike action in an attempt to make the government understand the damage it is doing to our schools.
With this strike, the NUT is calling on Nicky Morgan to increase funding to schools and education, guarantee terms and conditions in all types of schools and resume negotiations on teacher contracts to allow workload to be addressed.
Funding cuts have already had, and will continue to have, a hugely negative impact on the quality of education our schools can provide. As a result of these cuts, many of my local secondary schools have had no choice but to restructure, losing support staff and teachers. The cuts have resulted in increased class sizes, certain subjects no longer being taught, and staff are completely overstretched. Sadly, huge numbers of the remaining teachers have decided to leave these schools – in some cases the profession.
Three of our local secondary schools each had 25 teachers resign at the end of May. The school I teach at would not be able to operate in the way it does without the invaluable contributions of every member of our team. The quality of what we provide is the result of years of hard work and investment. Our pupils need schools run by teams of committed, qualified and experienced teachers who can give them the start in life they deserve.
Our schools should and can be places where every child can have their individual strengths recognised, can have their unique needs met, can feel excited about learning and can feel positive about themselves.
On top of this, although it was reported that the government made a U-turn on the forced academisation of schools, the reality is that plans to turn schools into academies are continuing, at an estimated cost of £1.3 billion - mainly spent on lawyers' fees and all from public money. At a time when our schools are already seeing huge funding cuts, it is completely irresponsible for money to be spent in this way. If this kind of money is available, why are we losing committed and experienced professionals from our schools? These plans illustrate just how wrong the government's priorities are.
For the first time in seven years as a teacher, decisions made by the Department for Education have made it impossible for me to meet the needs of my pupils. Changes to testing and assessment have been chaotic. What the government has expected me to teach has been too hard for many of my pupils and not useful for any of them. That isn't right and it isn't fair. No child should be made to feel they are failing. I have done my absolute best to ensure this isn't how any of my pupils feel, but the obsession with testing in our primary schools means many children end up stressed, believing they are not good enough, or put off learning completely.
And what is so frustrating about this situation is that there is a better way. This does not have to be how our schools operate. Schools need the space and time to properly prepare young people for the complicated world they are living in. Our schools should and can be places where every child can have their individual strengths recognised, can have their unique needs met, can feel excited about learning and can feel positive about themselves.
I hope that Nicky Morgan starts to take our concerns seriously. I hope she will start to properly engage with the reality of what is happening in our schools and how this is affecting our young people. By striking, I want to send a message to the government that my duty as a teacher is to the children I teach and that its role as a government is to work with teachers to make our schools the best they can be for children we serve.
By Megan Quinn
I support you, OP - I hate to see what has been done to education in schools over the last few years.
I have friends who teach and hardly see them term time because of their workload. It's insane and unsustainable, great people who love the children they work with being driven out of the profession.
I fully support this strike.
the timing of this strike is unfortunate, nobody will be listening right now!
It is not even on the BBC front page of the news, or the papers. This post won't get many reactions either, I imagine.
Much bigger stuff going on right now...
Teachers want more money, we all want more money. Where do you suggest we get it, off Doctors, the magic money tree?
Can the council fine, teachers for unauthorised absences?
Only 22.5% of NUT teachers voted for this strike
I fully support the teachers with this action, but it is unfortunate timing as a PP said.
The absences tend to be authorised by doctors who are treating those teachers for stress.
I support the cause but not the strike. The strike affects the children and parents, not the government. I completely believe the education system is letting down this generation as for teachers workload, there are far worse off professions who do not receive all the holidays and inset days and bank holidays teachers get so I have very little comment for workload and pay. Why teachers cant put the effort into petitions, protests and set up fairs or fates for parents and others in communities at the school to raise awareness of their concerns over government changes and cuts, and get the backing they need from people rather than just teachers having a day off which there have been many with no change.
Teachers aren't legally allowed to strike about anything other than pay and conditions so that's what the official focus is on, but really most teachers are striking because of the changes being made to education which are rushed through, badly thought out, and are damaging to both children and teachers. The changes are causing stress, hugely increased workload, presenting a narrowed curriculum and a restricted view of success. These changes were set in motion by Gove (and you can see what sort of person he is now!) and are being continued and extended (see forced academisation) by Nicky Morgan.
People complaining about how strike action being detrimental to the education of children surely can't appreciate how appalling for their children the government's education policy is. Teachers are leaving in droves because of it, strike action really should be the least of parents' worries here. Ask your school whether all vacancies are filled for next year, whether the teachers are all qualified to teach their subjects or even qualified to teach, how many members of support staff are being made redundant due to budget cuts, how dire the finances are looking for the future.
A pp was asking about petitions, please consider signing this one about compulsory SATs resits for Y7s, planned to start for current Y5 and for which the government has even yet to start an official consultation about implementation. Like all changes, it is poorly thought out, bad for the children affected, and will undoubtedly be finalised a couple of weeks before teachers are expected to run them.
Given that not even one in four teachers voted to strike it would be fair to say a majority of teachers didn't think striking was the right thing to do.
I support this strike OP. The future of education worries me. I spent nearly 20 years as a secondary teacher before the conditions drove me to mental and physical ill health. This isn't about more money for teachers. It is about securing the future of education.
found an excellent blog giving 10 reasons why we are striking here
Nicky Morgan thinks there is no magic money tree - so why is her department wasting millions and millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on failed academies, free schools that never happen, legal fees to convert schools into academies that no study has ever found will improve children's education then?
Plenty of money then, apparently
Why do radio listeners fall for this crap?
How much money is wasted on failing schools that are never closed down or improved. I bet that figure is a ten times bigger.
You are millions of pounds out. Millions.
But yes, do carry on making stuff up when faced with hard figures, clearly when you're shown the facts about how a government department is grossly mismanaging their finances and then misleading the poor sods who believe them, that's the way to go.
As for the poster who claimed that the strike wasn't on the BBC news page, it's right there:
It's been top of the news on Radio 5 all day and also on LBC. Nicky Morgan was sufficiently rattled and appeared on Radio 5 to denounce the strike
and tell lies. And those are just the ones I listen to.
It will be interesting to see if the teachers get the same support as Drs did on here.
I worry about the future of education too, we need high calibre people attracted in to teaching, in my area locally, there is a huge problem with recruiting decent science teachers especially.
Its not about more money its (partially) about leaving the pay structure alone.
It about leaving the terms and conditions of employment that we signed up for alone.
and its about funding schools properly.
I think NUT have been hugely unfair to the teachers choosing now for the strike. Many wanted to vote to strike but felt they couldn't as most schools are organising transition days and staff are on their knees as it is.
I think it was unfair to compromise teachers in this way by choosing now. I like a lot of parents fully support the teachers including striking but feel today has simply just been a shambles.
There is never a good time to strike.
I realise that, as I said I felt bad for the obvious conflict it caused where teachers wanted to vote to strike but really felt they couldn't.