Teachers blamed for ills of society, says new NASUWT president

NASUWT placardCuts to education are damaging teaching and learning, making a mockery of the Government’s pledges that education has been protected from the effects of austerity measures, according to the new NASUWT president.

In his Presidential Address to his union’s annual conference in Bournemouth, president Mick Lyons said that present policies appeared to be designed to turn teaching into “a trade rather than a profession” as part of an agenda to “control the curriculum and dictate the work of teachers.”

Mr Lyons said the deliberate undermining of teachers’ professionalism by the government had spilled over into the public narrative. Teachers, he said, were being blamed for “the ills of society”.

Mr Lyons said that his international visits had confirmed to him that the NASUWT’s concerns were shared by teacher trade unionists around the world and highlighted the “need for a global response, as well as vigilance at the national and international levels”.

In his speech, Mr Lyons said: “Daily denigration of the work and commitment of teachers, false claims of plummeting educational standards, and attacks on jobs, salaries, conditions of service and pensions are leaving colleagues heartily sickened and demoralised.

“Since 2010, we have seen the imposition of damaging and ideologically driven changes to the curriculum, assessment and qualifications systems, the ratcheting-up of accountability pressures on schools, and the use of inspection regimes as a political instrument to force through structural reforms, including privatisation and academisation in England.

“These developments are increasing daily the pressure on classroom teachers, headteachers and principals and are distracting schools and colleges from their most important task of educating children and young people.”

He added: “Education, once again, is being used as a political football. Expensive and disruptive short-term changes are being imposed with the agreement of teachers and in ways that teachers recognise as damaging to education.”

“We have the best policies and indications of how to achieve them, which has led to the NASUWT being the biggest teaching union in the UK and again leading the fight to uphold teachers’ pay and conditions.”