Thank you to all those who contacted me about teachers’ pay.
Teachers do an incredible job. They have been devoting more time, energy and sometimes money to deal with the issues that stop children from learning as other support services for families have been cut. Yet, they have seen their salaries fall again and again since 2010, and the Government imposed further real-term cuts for most teachers this year.
It is not just about pay. Teachers are overworked, overstretched, and undervalued – and this is taking its toll. The Government continue to miss its own recruitment targets and schools are struggling to retain teachers, with almost a third leaving the profession within five years. Many teachers have now decided to take industrial action, which I know is a decision they have not taken lightly.
We have known that strikes might happen since last summer, with NASUWT and the National Education Union both calling for above-inflation increases to teachers’ pay. Yet, the Government has disappointingly failed to prevent them. I believe Minister should have got round the table months ago and worked with unions to seriously negotiate on pay and conditions, but the constant change of Education Secretaries meant this was not addressed.
There is still time to prevent further strikes. Unions want to negotiate, and they are showing themselves willing to work for an agreement. The Government must take responsibility, offer meaningful negotiations and find a solution. Otherwise, I believe it will be Ministers’ failure that disrupts children’s education and parents’ working lives.
I want to see the Government do more to support our teachers and ensure they are free to focus on ensuring the highest standards in our schools. That is why I support calls to end tax breaks for private schools and use the money raised to recruit 6,500 new teaching staff, filling vacancies to reduce teachers’ workloads.
I also want to see that money used to deliver professional careers advisers in school and colleges, mental health hubs in every community, and access to a professional mental health counsellor in every school. This means teachers would no longer have to step in to compensate for struggling mental health services or fill the gap in careers advice.