Strikes are another learning opportunity


Labour Pat Osborne
Labour Pat Osborne

As parents of two kids in primary school, it’s fair to say that the teachers strikes are inconvenient for me and my partner. For me it means taking time off work at a really busy time. For my wife, who runs her own business, it means rearranging appointments and potentially missing out on a few days’ pay.
Similarly, as someone who values education, I don’t want my kids to miss out on valuable learning time. But we both wholeheartedly support the striking teachers.
Anyone who tried, as we did, to grapple with home schooling during lockdown, will know how challenging it is to try to encourage your own kids to sit down and learn for an hour or two a day. Our kids’ teachers are expected to achieve this every day, often more than 30 kids, all with different needs, in supersized classes with ever fewer teaching assistants (TAs) to support them.
There is a crisis in teaching.
More teachers and TAs are needed to deal with demand, but more than 12 years of Tory austerity have meant real-terms pay cuts, and the cost of living crisis has made things harder still. Burned out, undervalued and underpaid, teachers are understandably leaving the profession in their droves, making the situation even more difficult for those who remain – and increasingly undesirable for talented people who might otherwise have considered joining the profession.
All of this affects our kids, damaging them much more deeply than a day or two off school – and that means much more to me than the inconvenience of a day off work.
This article will be published after the first day of strike action (1st Feb), and our plan is that we will have thanked the teachers standing on picket lines and headed down to Weymouth for the TUC’s Protect the Right to Strike rally. They may not be in school, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be learning a valuable lesson from their teachers on how to express their democratic right to withdraw their labour and stand up for what is right and fair.
Pat Osborne
North Dorset Labour Party


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