I do not want to be on strike.
I have a mortgage, childcare and ever increasing food bills to pay; childcare which I will still have to pay today even though I’m not at work. I could really do without losing a day’s pay.
But, if we don’t fight to protect our pay and pensions now, things could be much worse in the years to come. Over the few years I’ve been in teaching, there have been pay freezes and constant threats to get rid of pay progression. Like many, I left a much better paid job to go into teaching so I am not financially motivated, but we are ultimately employing professionally qualified graduates (at least at the moment – the government clearly have plans to get round this issue!) to do what many of us agree is a hugely important job. Surely we want the people educating our children to be fairly rename rated for the job they do, or maybe they will leave and return to those better paid jobs.
I do not want to be on strike.
I don’t want my students to miss out on their learning. I realise that everyday in school is important – god knows I’ve said it enough times to children in my class. I know that exams are approaching and I desperately want my classes to do well. That’s why after a long day’s work and rushing home to pick up an ill child, I spend my evening marking coursework essays and emailing them back to sixth formers at 9pm, so they could still be getting on with work today if they chose to (if any of out our happen to be reading this – GET ON WITH YOUR WORK!)
But, we have to look at the bigger picture. If teachers continue to be denigrated in the media, overworked in school and paid relatively less and less, they’re not going to be able to teach well and our students will suffer even more.
I don’t want to be on strike.
I know how much inconvenience the closing of school causes. A few weeks ago our childminder was ill and I know how frustrating it was: debating each day who would miss work to stay home with the toddler; each of us manically trying to cram as much work as we could into nap time; overusing that Room of the Broom DVD to finish off whatever we couldn’t get done while he was colouring. I apologise to parents who feel angry and upset.
But, we have your children’s best interests at heart. If we don’t protect our profession, it is the students who will suffer. The planned mass introduction of unqualified teachers in to the classroom risks your child being taught by someone who isn’t confident, doesn’t have the skills and can’t help them the way they deserve. The constant focus on data, achievement and exam results at the expense of allowing teachers to get to know your children and nurture them as individuals. The free school movement means public money is spent on setting up schools where parents with time and resources want to set them up, rather than focussing that money where school places are desperately needed. The constant stress and pressure put on teachers, along with the knowledge they will have to work in those conditions until they are 68 while constantly being accused of being lazy and not caring enough means more and more people will leave the profession, leaving your children with a revolving door of teachers, where they get no consistency and no chance to build relationships.
My son will start school in a few years, and I don’t want that for him.
For all these reasons and more, I don’t want to be on strike today.
But I don’t feel I have a choice.
In a few hours I will join thousands of teachers marching to campaign for more respect for our education system. It is vital that parents and teachers are in this together.
Please support us.