Kate Hollern MP

Working Hard for Blackburn

Teachers and pupils sorely let down by Government

Today in Blackburn there were schools shut or partially shut, leaving children without a day of education and parents having to make last minute arrangements.

The NUT called strike action because they believe teachers and pupils are being sorely let down by this government. They have demanded increased funding for schools; guaranteed terms and conditions of employment in all types of schools; and the resumption of negotiations on teachers’ unsustainable workloads. While strike action is inconvenient, the decision to strike is never taken lightly and teachers are some of the hardest working professionals found anywhere.

This government is letting down our children and their teachers. The Schools budget is being cut in real terms – for the first time since the mid-1990s – and the deepest cut since the 1970s. There has been a serious warning from the Institute for Fiscal Studies which states funding per pupil will be 8% lower by 2020.

70 per cent of head teachers say the cuts are directly affecting the standard of education in our schools. Class sizes are soaring as there are not enough good school places. Pupils are getting less choice about the subjects they can learn and less individual time with staff.

There is a serious shortage of young people entering the teaching profession and the number of teachers quitting the profession – some 50,000 last year – is at a record high. Year after year this government has missed recruitment targets.

The government has been criticised on this issue not just by Labour, but by the National Audit Office, school leaders, Ofsted and the Public Accounts Committee too.

We need measures urgently to deal with a coasting Education Secretary and a failing government.

The working conditions of our teachers are the learning conditions of our children, they deserve the very best.

Instead of taking to the airwaves in a meaningless war of words, the Education Secretary would be better advised to listen to teachers who have the trust of parents and the best interest of pupils at heart.

The Government has already had its fingers burnt with the junior doctors, I hope they will learn the lesson from that dispute and enter into meaningful dialogue with the teaching unions and commit to a proper level of funding for education.

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