Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, looks at the issues facing teachers
More than 1,000 teachers, including a large number from Birmingham, gathered in Bournemouth over Easter for the annual conference of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union.
The relentless attacks by the coalition government on the public education system, on teachers and their professionalism, and on children and young people, dominated the discussions.
The NASUWT members present raised issues about their working conditions.
But they are first and foremost teachers and they were deeply concerned that children and young people had lost fundamental rights and entitlements at the hands of the coalition.
The right to be taught by a qualified teacher has been lost.
Access to a national broad and balanced curriculum that meets the needs of all learners has been removed, together with financial support to enable them to stay on in education.
Vital support for vulnerable children, including those with special needs, ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers, has been cut. More and more children and young people are being stigmatised and isolated as their participation in education increasingly relies on their family’s ability to pay.
We know many working parents in Birmingham struggle or are unable to meet rising costs of uniform, educational visits, school meals, provision of basic equipment, books and materials and contributions to school funds.
Our public education system is ranked sixth in the world.
Teachers at the conference pledged to maintain and enhance this high status by resisting the policies of the coalition.
Those polices are nothing to do with raising standards but are driven by a free market ideology, in which our schools and our children’s futures will be in the hands of privateers and profiteers wishing to turn a profit at the expense of the taxpayer.
Teachers are parents, taxpayers and members of the public.
Their concerns are the concerns of all ordinary working people and families.
We must all work together to resist the regressive, elitist education, social and economic policies of this coalition which are stifling the aspirations of all working class children.