Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Teachers: Striking for Our Children's Futures

Last week I had a conversation with Emily in the car. We don't talk much. She is 12 and swaggy and I am just totally not cool. She told me about her school tests and how she was finding it hard. I explained to her that she has to do the best that she can. She must work hard, even in Year 8. I explained that she only had one chance. Cynical as I am, I told her that basically, under this government - everything is stacked against her getting a decent education. We are working class, the rising cost of Universities, cuts to schools, funding for libraries, her gender.... 

"You must work hard to overcome all of this. And when you think you can't work harder...work harder. You can do whatever it is you want but it won't come easy to you."

Today was the day that the teachers went out on strike. My husband is a teacher.

As I had booked the day off to show solidarity I found myself marching along with the teachers through the streets of Liverpool. Alice was on Warren's shoulders and we chanted along and joined in. The sun was shining, whistles rang out and people were together. The mood was calm.

I was swept away with the crowds and found myself in the Liner hotel at the conference itself. In my head the word "solidarity" rang. As I listened to the speakers I really did wonder why the mood was so calm.

I am angry.

I am writing this from the viewpoint of a normal mother. I'm not a teacher. But I am angry.

Angry that the education system is being pulled to pieces by this Tory government. These cuts we have faced in the name of austerity are too deep. They don't heal.


The academisation of schools is essentially the privatisation of our schools. The administration of a school cannot be left in the hands of business. Schools should never be run for profit. We need an education system that works within the framework we have - we need professional teachers to teach our children, not unqualified teachers who only need four GCSEs to be able to stand in a classroom and teach our children, unqualified teachers who are employed simply as a cost cutting measure because schools are struggling to meet their budgets due to government funding cuts.

The Effects of Cuts

Our children need the best teachers. They need teaching assistants and professional staff to assist them in their learning journey. Cuts mean that jobs are lost, class sizes are increased, school places are limited. Cuts mean larger workloads for teachers, longer hours as well as increased pension and national insurance contributions.

Cuts affect the poorest and the disadvantaged. Children that might need a bit more attention, a bit more care - they are the ones that suffer first.

Teachers are out on the streets, standing not for themselves - but for education as a whole. They are fighting for their profession, for the future of education and for our children.

The Bigger Picture

It is time that we politicised ourselves. There is a crisis of austerity in education at the moment. It is time that as parents, we stood up and said enough is enough. Our lives and our children's lives are being toyed with by this Tory government in the name of austerity. Most people cannot afford to send their children to private schools - we send them to state schools, paid for by the public purse, with the expectation that they will receive a good education. We hope that the pubic purse pays for our children to be encouraged, inspired and led by excellent professional highly qualified teachers. We expect that the public purse will pay our teachers a fair wage, with fair working hours and conditions. We expect that there is extra help available to children who might need it, paid for by the public purse.

Do you know why? Because that money is OUR MONEY. The money from the public purse is our money, and we want what is best for our children. Now I did not vote this irresponsible and downright dangerous conservative government into power. But I am sure that even if you did... would you have voted for these cuts to our schools? Is that what you wanted? Austerity is a convenient programme to keep us down. It prevents us from educating ourselves, it prevents our teachers from giving their best, it prevents us from receiving the best healthcare, it prevents us from having adequate housing or having decent public services.

Where the hell is the tax I am paying? What is it going to if not education and health?

At the rally today, Jeremy Corbyn was mentioned a number of times. He might not wear a tie. He might not sing the national anthem or act the way you expect a "leader" to act. But he has values and principles - ones guided by care for people, by valuing us all.

Not just the elite.

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