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Teachers’ plight needs telling

Readers' letters | Published:

I write in total support for the bravery of Kelly Watkins, Shropshire Star April 5, to bring to the attention of an unsympathetic public, the reality of life as a teacher today.

This isn’t about Kelly’s school, which is a good one, with a management as supportive as it can be, restrained by the crushing financial constraints that the government has imposed on state education since 2010.

This is about every school within the state sector. As the National Executive member for the district and as county secretary for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, I can verify that what Kelly describes is a real and disturbing aspect of a teacher’s life today.

At conference, I applauded her bravery to stand up for all teachers, who face violence, threats to their person and physical intimidation on a daily basis. Violent and aggressive pupils are passed from pillar to post under managed moves or home school agreements. The government has made it impossible to exclude such pupils by imposing ridiculously large fines on schools who do.

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They slashed the funding to those services of the local authority that had the ability and knowledge to deal with the many and varied needs of these pupils, such as pupil referral centres, access to educational psychology services and other pupil services that were deemed too expensive.

The teaching profession is in crisis, teachers are leaving in their droves as the pressure of constant monitoring, a one per cent pay freeze for seven years that now puts teacher salaries at the bottom of respective graduate professions, so who can blame them?

Teachers frequently work 80 or more hours per week, in schools strapped for cash and resources, looking over their shoulders waiting for Ofsted or school improvement to come in and tell them they aren’t good enough. Would those officers be able to do it themselves? No!

So well done to Kelly for highlighting the issues in violence in our schools. Well done to ALL teachers who go in under increasingly hostile condition of service to deliver a quality education to your children day in day out. I would say this to all you teacher denigrators out there, if you think you can do it, come and spend a fortnight in a classroom, see how long you would last.

Tim Wasdell, NASUWT The Teachers’ Union, Shifnal

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