School resources are being diverted from classrooms into excessive salaries for executive heads and the pockets of law, accountancy and human resources companies, the NASUWT’s incoming president Dave Kitchen has told its annual conference.
Speaking in Belfast, Mr Kitchen said reforms around teacher and school accountability, decentralisation and privatisation had seen teachers become “no more than company assets to be managed”.
He said: “We are seeing the lack of regulations in some areas having a devastating effect. Resources for the classroom are being diverted away from teaching to be spent on law firms, accountancy and private HR companies to name but a few.
“We are seeing cases of excessive salaries for executive heads and a lack of financial accountability of taxpayers’ money. We are seeing excessive amounts of money being spent on consultants and many schools carrying large surplus budgets."
Public education is increasingly seen as “the next major global market to be exploited by private capital at the expense of the pupils, hence the overuse of performance tables in order to attract future consumers”.
Mr Kitchen also told the conference there was a “climate of fear”, in schools – not present when he began teaching – driven by onerous demands for accountability.
“Unfortunately what we are witnessing is teachers too fearful to speak out,” he said. “We are seeing increases in teachers suffering from excessive stress and taking medication, teachers leaving the profession because they cannot take any more or are no longer finding teaching affordable.
“We need to stand up so that all teachers can have a worthwhile and rewarding career in teaching with a pension at the end of it, so that there is an end to a climate of fear in all schools.”
Reflecting on his career, Mr Kitchen, who teaches religious education and PSHE in Liverpool, recalled that he began teaching in Dagenham where among his pupils were future members of the 1980s pop group Five Star.
He admitted: “I made the usual mistake of saying that unless they finished their work and spent less time talking, they weren’t going to get anywhere. One of them visited the school not long after in his Ferrari!”
Picture: Kevin Cooper/Photoline