Pity the parents as we go on strike

29th November 2002 at 00:00
When my school closed this week over the London allowance strike, apparently joining thousands of others, I had mixed feelings. Of course I would like more money, and yes, I think London teachers deserve the same pound;6,111 rate as the police.

How the Government cannot see that the resulting shortage of teachers threatens children's quality of education is unbelievable. But when you teach in a deprived area, looking parents in the eye who have to take a day off work to care for their kids is difficult - even if they were leafleted to elicit their support. Even worse is the thought that if they are cash-strapped and working in insecure jobs, some parents will leave children at home alone. When you are struggling to make ends meet, it is not so easy to live up to middle-class aspirations of childcare.

Absenteeism is also an issue in deprived areas. So how do I square telling parents they should not take their kids out of school, just to go Christmas shopping, with the fact that on Tuesday we were closed?

Then, as a newly-qualified teacher, there are the postgraduate certificate of education colleagues who are teaching outside of London and have no weighting at all. I trained in Bath. It is the most expensive city in England outside of London for accommodation. At least two of my fellow ex-students are paying more rent than I am. Greedy bastards was how one of them described us.

With the firefighters' strike in full swing, the Government has gone all Thatcherite on us. You can guarantee the Department for Education and Skills under Charles Clarke will not give in just because teachers are taking an unpaid day off.

I suspect some teachers joined the strike simply because they are exhausted. So maybe we should have another strike - and another chance to catch up on our marking.

David Ogle is an NQT at Pooles Park primary in Islington, north London

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