|The News Line: Editorial
Saturday, 9 March 2019
Head teachers up in arms – schools being cut to the bone! All-out strike now to bring Tories down!
MORE than 7,000 heads have written a joint letter to 3.5 million families warning of the acute funding crisis in schools. The heads insist that they have been ‘snubbed’ by the Tory education minister Nick Gibb, who won’t even meet with them face-to-face, claiming he is too busy.
Their letter warns that the cuts mean narrowing the range of subjects and increasing the size of classes. Last year, over 1,000 head teachers from England and Wales marched on Downing Street to protest at the savage funding cuts to their schools.
This week MPs debated school funding, after a petition received 100,000 signatures. Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: ‘It is nothing short of scandalous that the government is refusing to recognise the impact a lack of funding is having on schools. The real losers here are our children and young people.’
A shocking study carried out by the GMB union showed that almost one in ten school staff bring in their own food to feed kids who would otherwise go hungry. Over half the staff surveyed reported spending their own money to provide other essentials for pupils including tampons, pens, pencils, books, toilet paper and toys.
The GMB also uncovered confirmation from a Department for Education analysis that up to 2.6 million children could lose their right to free school meals by 2022 under government changes to eligibility because of the Universal Credit system. The government’s own figures showed over four million children in the UK were living in relative poverty in 2018. That’s one in three. This number is expected to rise dramatically over the next five years as Universal Credit takes hold, increasingly pushing more and more families into poverty.
Victorian childhood diseases that were almost eradicated are back with a vengeance. Rickets, scarlet fever and other diseases more commonly seen in the Victorian era are sending increasing numbers to hospital, NHS data for England have revealed. And it’s not just the pupils but teachers themselves who have been thrown into poverty. The number of teachers and school support staff applying for emergency charity grants to prevent them being made homeless has more than doubled in the last five years.
On this, Mary Bousted of the NEU said teachers’ pay had declined by more than 10 per cent in real terms since 2010. She said: ‘If teachers are having to use food banks, I’m not surprised they can’t afford housing costs.’ Teachers in the UK work ‘some of the longest hours in the world’ a study of 35 countries in the world has found, with British teachers working a 51-hour week, the fourth longest.
Last month, the news broke that the Tories were holding teachers’ pay at 2% for another year. Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said anything less than a 5% pay increase for teachers ‘is a kick in the teeth’. However, 5% is an extremely modest demand to say the least!
Scottish teachers in the EIS union rejected a pay offer of 9%, demanding the full 10% pay rise that they are calling for and they are now balloting for strike action. Tory cuts to education are destroying children’s and teachers’ lives! Children living in Victorian poverty, teachers on the verge of eviction, forced to visits food banks, state schools being cut to the bone – this is ‘modern’ Britain under the Tories.
Meanwhile, privately run academy schools are sucking in millions and academy bosses are on hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. The whole academy system operates like a giant gravy train.
Scottish teachers are leading the way. The education unions in England and Wales must follow suit and demand 10% pay increases and not a penny less. A UK-wide teachers’ strike, backed up by parents and school students is the only way forward. Such a strike will rapidly escalate into a general strike to bring this government down.
A workers government will immediately provide all the funds that council-run schools require, kick the bosses out of every single academy school and return them to council ownership, ensuring that every teacher gets properly paid and that school pupils get the quality of education they need and deserve.
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