Teachers do not take strike action lightly, and many will go on strike today with a heavy heart but with the feeling that enough is enough. Teachers are weary of seeing the education that children receive negatively affected by Government policy, of working in schools where the funding is insufficient and their terms and conditions are being eroded.
Many parents share our concerns. The impact of funding cuts – whether it be larger class sizes, teaching staff being cut, less individual attention for children or a reduction in the number of subjects offered to students – is of concern to all those who care about education. This is not just one day of action, but a fight for quality state education.
The NUT believes this is the right time to be taking action. Political parties are in turmoil. Leadership elections for the Conservative party are underway and decisions are being made on policy direction. The chancellor is also setting out an economic policy of corporate tax cuts. Education must be at the forefront of economic policy and of every election campaign.
George Osborne is freezing the cash per pupil he gives to schools, while increasing what he takes from them. For every 20 teachers employed, a school has to find an extra teacher's salary to give to the Treasury. This is the essential immediate reason for the cuts we are facing now. These cuts, combined with the deregulation, are leading to worsening conditions of service for teachers and learning conditions for pupils.
Nicky Morgan has refused to listen to the NUT’s concerns. We have been left with no option but to bring them to the attention of the general public. Failure to do so would be letting down our children and teachers. We thank the BMA for their support and we thank the parents' groups who have sent messages of support and agreed to speak at rallies around the country. Most importantly, we thank those teachers who are taking a stand for the profession, and to protect our children’s education.
Kevin Courtney is acting general secretary of the Natational Union of Teachers