‘Who am I fighting for?’

Primary school teacher

When the strike action was announced I felt torn as if I was being pulled in all different directions.

The first is the state of education. It’s that bad, that poor. It’s completely underfunded which has an impact on many areas within schools. It means that first and foremost, there are not enough staff and not sufficiently paid staff. I’ve been teaching for almost 30 years and over that time the funding has just been stripped back to the bare minimum. And I have to reconcile with how I’m going to contribute to making that change.

The second one is the camaraderie with my colleagues and my duty to them and the future teachers. On the first strike day, when I decided to go to the protest I felt very much part of an important cause. The speakers in the rally made some very pertinent points regarding the state of the education system. So it was beneficial because it reminded me of all of the issues that are at stake and in much more detail in terms of numbers and figures. We all felt very much united at the time.

But then I was thinking about the children who’ve already suffered. Through Covid, these children have suffered and the thought of having them miss yet more days weighed on my mind quite significantly. Because that’s who we’re doing it for. Why do we teach? In the end, it’s about the children.

And then the final direction is my own family. Am I able to afford to strike as a teacher? I have three children and I’m married, with a mortgage. My oldest is at university, and as everyone can appreciate, that costs money. I’m already doing extra tutoring after school as well as teaching all day every day, so the thought of losing a day’s pay is considerable. My family is everything and I’m not sure I can afford the next two days of strikes.

As told to Paul Bacon.

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