Hello lovely people!
I don't know about you but I would very much like to see an end to the winter weather. If nothing else, it would mean having to dress my little boy in fewer layers!
Anyway, this week's Postcard from the Edge (a series of smaller, hot-take blog posts), contains a couple of updates from previous posts.
The first is an acknowledgement that I was wrong. Back in October 2022, I reached the conclusion that a teachers' strike wouldn't happen (A Round-up of the News). How wrong I was! With the strength of over 50% of the NEU behind them, and 30,000 new members since the strike was given the go-ahead, teachers from around the country will be striking on several days.
One of the results of this is that supply agencies have adopted a sort of Über-esque surge pricing for their staff, although many supply teachers have said that they will not be accepting work offers on strike days to show support.
I have to say, I'm shocked. Here in the UK, we're in a recession that could become a depression, and striking teachers don't get paid. This industrial action is going to be expensive for everyone.
But what about the children?!
This is often a line parroted by the Daily Mail brigade and the Twitterati. How can teachers who claim to care about children's education voluntarily strike, causing schools to close and cheating children of their education? Don't they care?
Of course we do. I've spoken to a lot of fellow teachers, all of whom are striking, and they all care a great deal about the children. But that doesn't mean we as a profession deserve to be underpaid and walked over.
The other thing you're bound to read will be along the lines of 'if children miss school, the parents get fined but it's okay for teachers to go on strike?' This is ridiculous. For one thing, teachers don't issue fines, the government do. For another, this is strike action because there is literally no other option left, it is not a holiday in term-time because it's cheaper.
Will striking help teachers get the pay rise they deserve? They're asking for quite a lot and I don't think they'll get it (they're not train drivers, after all). If they do get the results they're after, I wonder if the government will do what they did with the previous pay increase - promise more pay then refuse to increase the budget. This would force schools to reduce staff (bye-bye TAs) and maybe even increase class sizes (hello lower standards). And I bet they suggest pandemic-style remote learning as an option.
But hey, I've been wrong before.
Another update now, from my post, 'Another one!? ’, also from October '22. I wrote to the then Minister for Education (Kitt Malthouse) to ask about funding for Pupil Referral Units and the budgetary requirements for SEND funding.
Recently, I got a reply from the Minister for Children, Families and Welfare. I'll leave it below and you can pick out your favourite lip-service platitudes. For all I know, it was written By ChatGPT.