Teachers are falling sick with stress and deserve an annual real-terms pay rise, the profession's largest union was told today.
Former teacher and Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran said teachers were “facing an existential threat from the very people who claim to value us: politicians”.
Speaking at the NEU teaching union’s annual conference in Liverpool today, she said: “This is especially true in the state system, where schools are increasingly under siege: from harsh real-terms budget cuts, from excessive workloads and from an inspection regime that scares rather than supports teachers.”
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Ms Moran said that the independent Education Commission she had set up to try and take party political point-scoring out of education was now calling for evidence “to help shape the vision”.
She added: “For too long, decisions have been made to the profession, and not with the profession. In my view, this is where successive governments of all colours keep going wrong.
“I said just now that our state schools were under siege. And the stress this is causing teachers is now making them fall sick.”
She added: "Conference, if we value our teachers, our most vital asset in education, an annual pay rise should be an accepted norm. We should be guaranteeing all teachers a pay rise, at least in line with inflation, every year.”
Ms Moran's teacher-pleasing speech attracted widespread applause when she repeated Lib Dem policy plan to scrap Ofsted, as well as testing and league tables.
She said: “An institution that was once supposed to support educators to improve now strikes fear into the hearts of even the most capable and dedicated teachers.
“Its relentless focus on test results has driven the culture of ‘teaching to the test’, off-rolling and stifling any real creativity in the profession.
“There is the first glimpse of recognition in the new Ofsted inspection framework that something is wrong, but it is far too unambitious. The Ofsted brand is fundamentally broken.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general gecretary of the NEU, said: “The alternative vision for education set out by Layla Moran will be music to the ears of many education professionals.
"Scrapping Ofsted, banning league tables and abolishing SATs would open up the space to build an education system that meets the needs of all children and young people whilst restoring the professional status of teachers."