Overworked, underpaid and ignored by the government: teachers feel they are being driven to taking drastic action, including strikes, to protect their working conditions.
Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) from across Dorset were joined by colleagues from the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and concerned parents and children, as they met to discuss – and condemn – government education policy, at a rally in Poole on Thursday.
Teachers in the two unions walked out for a national one day strike on the same day.
“It has been about 150 years that people have been striving in this country to create a national education system, a system for everyone,” said Gillingham School’s head of year eight, Matt Lake.
“In a few years, that system could be wilfully dismantled – 150 years worth of progress could be thrown out of the window.”
The NUT’s national executive member for Somerset, Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole and the Channel Islands, Robin Head, was critical of comments made by Schools Minister David Laws on ITV’s Daybreak the same morning.
“His performance was disgraceful this morning,” said Head. “He was patronising, high-handed and showed that he was completely out of touch with mainstream teachers in the classrooms.”
He added, “David Laws was trying to convince the public that we have had lots of meetings. We haven’t had any meaningful meetings.”
Head suggested that the strike was a last resort, as teachers have felt increasingly ignored by a government intent on changing education ideologically.
NUT secretary for Bournemouth David Morgan told the Breaker, “Teachers are on board with the strikes. There is great dissatisfaction among them with the way the government is handling education.”
Many schools in the Bournemouth and Poole area were closed due to understaffing as a result of the strike. Parents and carers of children attending Broadstone Middle School were informed of the school’s closure, being told that, “Neither the school’s decision to close nor the staff’s to take a stance against government proposals has been taken lightly and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”