It’s Time to Stand Up for Education

teachers stall
Vicky Nash (NUT) Dave Chapple (CWU) and Brian Smedley (UNITE) on the ‘Stand Up for Education’ stall in Bridgwater

Teachers have been taking to the streets of Somerset to protest against Coalition Government policies that they say threaten the standard of education in all our schools and colleges. Last week the NUT had a stall in Taunton and today it was Bridgwater. They were joined by sympathetic Trades Unionists as they handed out leaflets and balloons , collected signatures of a petition and explained their case.

NUT rep Vicky Nash was on the town’s Cornhill for over 5  hours urging people to contact their MP, send a letter to the local paper and to keep in touch with the campaign as it develops. Vicky explained that the key issue was to try to make Michael Gove, the Tory Education secretary, change course. “Our education system is being undermined. The Coalition say they no longer require schools to employ qualified teachers, they’re rushing through a new curriculum without resources and against the advice of many teachers and introducing expensive and unnecessary new tests for 5 and 11 year olds. They’re reducing young people’s opportunities by trebling tuition fees and abolishing the EMA;and wasting the olympic legacy by undermining sport in schools.They are also creating chaos of parents by allowing neighboruing schools to have different terms dates and school holidays.”

Many young mothers were stopping at the stall clearly concerned at stories of their children having to stay at school until late afternoon s  and at the same time worried at the plummeting moral the changes are causing in the teaching staff. Vicky added “We need to ensure that every classroom has a qualified teacher, that councils are allowed to open new schools where they are needed, that changes to the curriculum and to exams are positive and planned, that schools are working together and properly funded and that there are enough new teachers.”

‘Don’t vote Tory next time’

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Sign the petition, write to your MP, contact your local paper. Stand Up for Education.

Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour Westover) joined the Teachers protest and said “I was just overhearing a young woman working in a cafe saying she really wanted to go to University but now she had given up that hope because of the fees. An old guy she was serving said to her ‘well, don’t vote Tory next time!’ to which she said ‘i didn’t vote Tory nor anybody, I don’t even vote’ which made me say ‘well how do you think these decisions get made?!’. I fully support the NUT taking their fight to another level and hope people will be right behind them when they take strike action later this month.”

Cllr Mick Lerry, Labour’s candidate for the General Election in Bridgwater and West Somerset and an NUT member, said “ The independent School Teachers’ Review Body has rejected Michael Gove’s arguments to dismantle the framework for pay and conditions of service for teachers. If education is disrupted for students, then Michael Gove is at fault, if he is prepared to talk to the NUT then the strike could be avoided”

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