THE battle to protect our profession and children’s education is far from over.
That’s the message from determined teachers who have made a stand against what they say is increasing pressure from the government and plans which could seriously undermine their work and pupils’ prospects.
Teachers across the region went on strike yesterday and staged a rally in Portsmouth’s Commercial Road in a bid to spread the message that they – and their students – deserve better.
Unions say school budgets are being squeezed and ‘damaging’ plans have been put forward to force through academisation and narrow the school curriculum, which could see some subjects like the arts being phased out.
And NUT executive member for Portsmouth, Amanda Martin, said more strikes would be staged to ensure the government listens.
She said: ‘This is not over. The government is not listening.
We need to keep the momentum going. The damage is happening now in classrooms and it can only get worse.NUT executive member for Portsmouth, Amanda Martin
‘On July 21, the NUT will be announcing further strike action in September and October.
‘We need to keep the momentum going.
‘The damage is happening now in classrooms and it can only get worse.
‘Parents have got to be kept aboard over what is happening to their kids and their future.’
Passionate speeches were delivered in the city centre and the NUT spoke up about the need to stand united.
Portsmouth teacher Jane Backhouse said: ‘This isn’t about my terms and conditions, it’s about the government cutting the funding to schools which is going to affect the children I teach, and my own children.’
Belinda Davis, a teacher at Quayside Education Centre in Gosport, said: ‘This is about the cuts to education – four-year-olds in classrooms of 32 children.
‘Sixth-formers are not getting into courses at sixth-form colleges, and if they do, it’s not on courses they necessarily want to be on.
‘If we don’t stand up for the children and education, no-one else will.
‘It’s a continuous battle to get the government to listen to us.
‘But we will not give up, because the children and their education is far, far too important to give up on.’
Anti-cuts campaigner Jon Woods led chants against austerity.
He said: ‘The Tories are playing politics with children’s education.
‘They want to academise every school, they want to bring in free schools, cut funding; they want to destroy education. It’s an absolute disgrace.’
A 10-YEAR-OLD school pupil made a passionate stand against the government’s impact on teaching.
Rubie Blackman, who goes to Warren Park Primary School, in Havant, spoke up in front of supporters in Commercial Road about the impact cuts have on children.
Speaking to The News, Rubie said: ‘I feel like the children don’t get much of a say in this.
‘We need more money for schools so we can get a better education, for better jobs and better lives.
‘When we get older, we are going to be having families and we need money for that.
‘But if we don’t have good education, it means we won’t get a lot of money, which means not having a good job.’
Meanwhile, Louise Cahill, a teacher at Crofton Hammond Junior School, in Stubbington, fears pressure to ensure students are ready for exams will lead to many 11-year-olds branded as ‘failures’ if they don’t perform.
Ms Cahill said: ‘I love my kids in my class.
‘I want them to do really well; and that’s becoming more and more difficult to do.
‘I seem to be pushing them towards tests at the end of Year six.
‘I have been teaching for 21 years and it’s really changed.
‘This is massively about their future. I know the exam factory thing is bandied about, but it’s true.
‘For year six pupils, from January, it’s all about test practice. My worry is, children will be branded as failures at age 11.’
SCHOOLS minister Nick Gibb has described yesterday’s teacher strikes as ‘pointless’ – and praised the number of schools which remained open despite the mass staff walkout.
Responding to a question in the House of Commons about the strike, Mr Gibb said: ‘The industrial action by the NUT is pointless but it is far from inconsequential - it disrupts children’s education, it inconveniences parents and it damages the profession’s reputation in the eyes of the public. But because of the dedication of the vast majority of teachers and head teachers, our analysis shows that seven out of eight schools are refusing to close.’ He said the NUT was seeking to take the profession ‘back to the tired and dated disputes over the 20th century.’