Teachers across the country have been on strike in order to highlight the reduced funding schools are receving. However, instead of listening to their arguments, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has come out with what might be her most ludicrous comment to date.
Slating the striking teachers, she claimed they were “playing politics with children’s futures”. Quite how a politician who’s whole remit is to do exactly that can make this statement without irony is unknown.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT), who called the strike, said they have tried to raise the issues through talks with Morgan, but “she does not acknowledge the reality”.
And the reality, according to the NUT, is that schools are suffering cuts, are understaffed, and are underfunded. This is in addition to concerns that pay and conditions for teachers are now no longer universal thanks to academies being able to set their own terms in employing staff.
The three demands of the NUT strike are:
An increase in funding for schools (in the face of imminent cuts and likely redundancies);
Guaranteed terms and conditions across all types of schools;
National negotiations to reduce chronic workload problems.
Writing about the strike, acting leader of NUT, Kevin Courtney, acknowledged that it was with a “heavy heart” that teachers were striking:
Teachers do not take strike action lightly, and many will go on strike today with a heavy heart but with the feeling that enough is enough. Teachers are weary of seeing the education that children receive negatively affected by Government policy, of working in schools where the funding is insufficient and their terms and conditions are being eroded.
Courtney also “wholeheartedly apologised” for causing disruption to parents, and further stated:
Class sizes are going up. We are being told of schools where there will be classes of 35 in September. Art, dance and drama teachers are being made redundant or not being replaced when they leave; individual attention for children is going down. This is all happening because the government is not allowing school budgets to keep pace with inflation. They are freezing the cash per pupil they give to schools.
Despite Morgan also calling the strike “unnecessary” and “harmful”, and headlines focusing on the “disruption” caused to families, many social media users have been voicing their support for the teachers:
Solidarity, big love and thanks to all you teachers striking today. Everyday heroes trying to save the future for our kids #NUTstrike
— Sara (@sara_georgina) July 5, 2016
Hypocrite Nicky Morgan implements cuts to education, then accuses teachers of putting "children’s education at risk". #nutstrike
— Left Unity (@LeftUnityUK) July 5, 2016
There have also been marches and rallies across the country in support of the teachers:
— UCUHallam (@UCUHallam) July 5, 2016
— Catherine Jones (@catherine5news) July 5, 2016
Any strike action, by its very nature, is disruptive – ultimately this is why it is a powerful weapon, and why the government have sought to clamp down on it.
However, as these comments show, it is not an action which is undertaken lightly, but an action of a pressurised workforce who genuinely care about our children’s future, and who are not being listened to.
Ultimately, less resources, fewer teachers and larger class sizes will be of detriment to future generations and will cause far more “disruption” than children missing one day of school.
It is, in fact, Nicky Morgan who needs to stop “playing politics with our children’s future”, and start listening to and respecting the voices of those who work in our schools.
Tweet your support for the strike using #nutstrike
Support the campaign with a Save Our Schools t-shirt.
Featured image via Flickr
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