I am a disgruntled primary teacher. We made a difficult decision to strike this academic year and I know this is beginning to impact more now. The government and media would leave you to believe that we are greedy, self-centred and bone idols. I was called selfish by a parent this week. This is simply ludicrous. Believe it or not, I do have feelings, I do have a heart and I do care about the children I teach…
1. We do not get paid when we choose to withdraw from the classroom
2. We do still have to teach the children the full curriculum regardless of strike days
3. Schools cannot afford pay rises from their current budget
4. Most schools operate in a deficit each year, we do not have money to buy adequate classroom supplies or take children on important trips
5. Most schools are making cuts to staff, many classrooms are operating without support staff
6. Many schools are employing unqualified teachers to cut costs which impacts the quality of the provision
7. Many children with additional needs are not catered for in existing budgets and hence are not receiving the support they deserve to fulfil their potential
8. Most teachers use their own money to buy essential supplies for the children they teach such as glue sticks and pencils
9. Most teachers spend their own money on creating fun and exciting lessons to engage children in their education.
10. Most teachers work a lot of unpaid overtime each week and even work when they are not well! Most teachers work throughout their lunch breaks, in the evenings at home and on the weekend
11. Most of us did not want schools to “shut” during COVID. Children’s missed learning was not down to teachers. We were not furloughed; we did continue working throughout the pandemic. We continued to support our children and their families the best we could. We too faced the same difficulties many families faced during the lockdowns. My own children were neglected while I taught a class live online each day for our normal school hours.
I could go on and on…
Why do I strike?
I strike because your children deserve better, my children deserve better. I strike because I simply cannot work any more hours in a day. I strike because I should not need to spend my own money to buy classroom supplies required to complete my job. I strike because this demanding job seems to know no boundaries. I strike because children with special educational needs are not receiving the education they deserve because the existing budgets do not allow for quality support staff. I strike because teacher retention is extremely problematic and continues to impact classrooms daily. I strike because I deserve to be treated with more respect and dignity. I work hard. I train hard. I push myself to the limit each day to best support the children in my classroom and often, this is still not enough.
If this makes me selfish, then so be it. I will continue to strike until the government recognise children deserve better! Teachers and support staff deserve better!