Last week, with heavy hearts, thousands of teachers across the country downed tools to strike against the Conservative government’s shambolic and irresponsible approach to our most precious national resource – the education of our children. This week, at least, they have something to smile about. The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, has been sacked, leaving behind her a trail of crumbling, disastrous policies.
Even the most cursory glance at her time in office highlights the background to the National Union of Teachers’ strike last week,
- The failure to promote the importance of secure funding for schools will leave a very large hole in the finances of schools by 2020. As schools are forced to tighten their belts even further, children will increasingly have to work in larger classes, with poor resources, often taught by inexperienced teachers.
- The botched attempt to force all schools to become academies was met with almost universal derision and horror from most teachers. As well as academisation being a very expensive process, and open to all manner of financial abuses, recent research shows that, despite a handful of very successful academy chains, there is little evidence that academies perform better than their local authority run counterparts.
- A combative approach to teachers’ concerns about pay and conditions has led to a growing recruitment and retention crisis across the country. If individual schools and chains are allowed to set their own pay scales and conditions, and employ unqualified staff, then the result will be a race to the bottom that will further strip the workforce of experienced teachers.
- The unquestioning continuation of Michael Gove’s (also sacked this week bizarre Grammar school agenda has left thousands of families distraught this year, with parents and carers desperately trying to convince their sobbing primary school children that they aren’t failures just because they can’t correctly identify the subordinating conjunction in a phrase (not that this skill would prepare them for anything later in life).
The core drive of the National Union of Teachers’ continued efforts to raise awareness of these issues is plain for all to see. This Conservative government is too heartless, too out-of-touch and too incompetent to be entrusted with the education of our children.