THE BLOG

Ponderings on the NUT Strikes

26/03/2014 09:54 GMT | Updated 25/05/2014 10:59 BST

And so, teachers are striking. They have a point.

They are being led by a boss who is quick to see their faults, but slow to appreciate their contribution, which needs acknowledgement, not belittling.

They need support to reach targets, and to ensure that the young people in their care get the best educations possible. Furthermore those targets need to be realistic, and policies and procedures enacted by the department of education should reflect the holistic improvement of state education rather than such a narrow focus on exam based success. As I have argued elsewhere there is a dire need of character education in schools, which incidentally Gove's current high-pressure policies make no room for.

Gove has been taught by teachers of course, but never been one himself, a fact that no doubt irks many long-standing stalwarts of the education system. An unacceptable number of said teachers are leaving the profession along with newly qualified teachers leaving within years of entering it. The constant criticism, pension reforms disparate with a shifting economy, and seeming flippancy to widespread disapproval serves only to drive skilled teachers out of the education workforce.

Ultimately, it's fair to say that teachers are justifiably aggrieved. Anyone touched by the swings of the ailing economy over the last decade will understand why they are striking. Not all, however, will recognise those strikes as justified. Like when any large important public service strikes, there is always collateral damage. Actions reverberate from inside the education sector and seep into public life at large. Childcare provision for young people who attend striking schools becomes a headache for parents and guardians, teaching schedules are disrupted, and most importantly students miss out on a day of studies in the run up to standard assessment tests and GCSEs.

Thus opinion becomes divided. On the one hand, the majority will be sympathetic to teachers' concerns, and on the other, actions taken by the NUT and its members serve to alienate families that suffer the knockdown effects of a nationwide strike.

So who is in the right here? Hard to say. As a nation we should support the plight of teachers who supply arguably one of the most important services in the county, the people we charge with enriching the intellect of our young people. But national strikes are becoming annual events. This will be the third strike since 2011. We complain about attendance, we complain about poor achievement. This will only make matters worse for those who count most: our pupils.