“Education is in crisis”

Teachers in England and Wales have begun a series of strikes over pay and conditions.

The first by the National Education Union started yesterday to try to force the government to up its pay offer to above inflation.

Michelle Wood and Richard Idle are striking primary school teachers from Suffolk.

Picture courtesy of Worlingham Primary School

They say they are taking industrial action because of a lack of funding, pay not accounting for the rising cost of living, and the pressures of teaching and workload. 

Michelle Wood said, “Education is in crisis” and “change needs to happen for the education system, and its workers, to survive”.

Parents are concerned that the strikes could harm their child’s education. 

In a statement this week, the education secretary, Gillian Keegan, described the strikes as “really disappointing and so disruptive and not a last resort”.

However, schools across the country have plans in place to make sure students are not missing out on work. 

For example, Worlingham Primary School in Suffolk has over 340 students and will remain open. 

Staff from other unions will support students and teachers who are still going in, and teachers are providing work and well-being packages for pupils to carry out at home. 

Wood said, “The excessive workload and poor pay is having a detrimental effect on teachers’ mental health

“[It] will have a more lasting impact on students than these strikes, children and young people are already losing out.”

Last month more than half of the teachers who took part in a vote, 90 per cent of teachers in the NEU in England, supported calls to strike. But many have doubts over whether they will have the intended outcome.

Some teachers, like Richard Idle, believe if the pay rises happen but are not fully funded out of school budget, then this will “negatively impact pupils’ educational opportunities”. 

With three NEU strike days left, teachers could be waiting until the 16th of March to see if their voices have really been heard by the government.

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