For teachers disillusioned with politicians meddling in education, finding a candidate to vote for in today’s general election could prove difficult. Several of them, however, have decided to take matters into their own hands – by standing for Parliament.
Caroline Kolek, who teaches RE, sociology and philosophy at the Taunton Academy in Somerset, is Labour’s candidate for Tiverton and Honiton. Her “epiphany” came after watching an interview with chancellor George Osborne about austerity. “I was absolutely livid,” said the executive member of the ATL teaching union. “I see children coming to school hungry and the impact that government policy has on them.”
Classroom behaviour management strategies could come in handy in Westminster, Ms Kolek added. “The behaviour during Prime Minister’s Questions is appalling. There’s no way I would put up with that as a teacher.”
Also standing for Labour is Ken Rustidge, an NUT regional official in Lincolnshire, who is contesting the seat of North East Cambridgeshire.
But three of Mr Rustidge’s colleagues on the union’s executive have opted to represent the left-wing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: Martin Powell-Davies is running in Lewisham West and Penge, Anne Lemon in Bristol North West and Pete Glover in Bootle.
“There needs to be an alternative to austerity, academisation and privatisation,” said Mr Powell-Davies, who teaches physics at Conisborough College.
Alasdair Hill, a biology teacher at Alexandra Park School in North London, is contesting the Hendon seat for the Liberal Democrats. Not surprisingly, education is a major issue for him.
“Education matters,” he said. “It is how we develop the tools to live a fulfilled and happy life. It is how our children become engaged, interested and driven adults. It is what unites us. It cannot be neglected.”
The aspiring MPs are seeking to follow in the footsteps of Labour’s Kevin Brennan, who taught at Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff before becoming shadow schools minister. His colleague Nic Dakin was previously principal of Scunthorpe’s John Leggott College, and Conservative MP Andrew Percy taught history before being elected in 2010.