TOP politicians from all parties have urged teachers not to strike today.
Education secretary Michael Gove said the industrial action would cause “massive inconvenience to hard working families” and his boss David Cameron described the strike as “wrong”.
As a 61-year-old facing a prolonged working life in the private sector for a derisory pension I may be expected to agree with these sentiments, particularly as I’ve been a working parent too. Not so.
I hope all members of the NUT and ATL come out in strength today and demonstrate that they rightfully have pride in their vocation as educators with the most important job in the country.
Teachers are not glorified child minders, Mr Gove, and it’s insulting to imply that they are shirking their responsibilities by taking a day out now, after exams are over at the end of the summer term.
What the teachers (and the civil servants who are also pledged to strike today) are doing is drawing a line and establishing a negotiating position.
I believe the union leaders who tell us the Government has ring fenced certain demands as non-negotiable rather than the ministers who claim oh-so-reasonably that the strike has been called in the midst of negotiations.
And I hope I’m right in thinking that the vast majority of parents these days support teachers and feel they earn every penny they get.
I KNOW they do. I tried for four years in the 1990s to get a foothold in the profession as a primary school teacher before giving up the struggle.
My first mentor at the chalkface told me: “The buck stops with you. You’re on your own from the minute you step out in front of your class..”’
Constant interaction and the pressure of being responsible for the safety and wellbeing of 30 youngsters is exhausting.
It takes huge energy to pull off controlling a class before you even start teaching them, drawing them out, assessing, marking their work, preparing lessons. It’s impossible to contain all that and the paperwork required in school hours. Forget long holidays – they’re an impossible dream for most teachers. Imagine keeping it up until you’re 68!
I hope today’s strike shows the Government they can’t criticise teachers because they have public support, but I also hope teachers bear in mind they’re better off than most public sector workers and something’s got to give.