Press release: support for members campaigning over cuts to education by Sarah Bedwell

The National Union of Teachers wants to express its unequivocal support for all local children, parents, teachers (at every level within schools) and governors who have been campaigning to defend education. We deplore the attack on both individuals and specific schools that have been made in some online reports recently. Responsible reporting should focus on the issues, not denigrate those seeking to stand up for our children. It’s wholly wrong to impugn the integrity of heads and teachers who are concerned about the devastating cuts their schools are facing.

For this and previous governments, and any of their representatives, to try to use ‘purdah’ rules to stop every publicly employed person from speaking out coming up to any election is not acceptable.

Everyone in education, the NHS and every other public-sector service would be silenced if some MPs had their way. The public is rejecting more and more the behind-the-scenes obstruction and intimidation that some MPs have resorted to, rather than the open and transparent engagement in public debate that we should expect from our representatives.

If governments do not want schools to be politicised then they must cease making politically-biased decisions about them: about their structures, about what is taught, about how it’s taught, about how assessments are undertaken and used, about how staff are paid and judged. Any campaigning by local groups or individuals has focussed on the acknowledged and very real damage done to our children by reducing the funds available to our schools and by squeezing the curriculum offer available. We can’t ignore these issues.

Many letters from schools in dozens of local authorities across the country were referred to in a recent national online newspaper report. The last sentence of the report should have been the first: “however, the institute for fiscal studies said rising student numbers and inflation would lead to real terms cuts.”

School leaders are just telling parents these facts. Speaking the truth should not be a crime.

S. Ud-din & S. Bedwell

Joint Division Secretaries, Lancashire NUT