Junior doctors speak up in support of striking teachers

Rallies are due to take place around the country and thousands of schools could be affected, as NUT members down tools for the day over funding fears

Johann Malawana, chair of the junior doctors’ committee at the British Medical Association, has lent his support to teachers striking today.

Dr Malawana posted a video on Twitter wishing strikers success in their dispute over pay, conditions and funding and was due to join them on a picket line in north London this morning.

He said: “Junior doctors are really grateful for the support they received from across the trade union movement and their professional colleagues. We took a stand for ourselves and our patients and we support our teaching colleagues as they take a stand for themselves and their pupils”.

Members of the NUT teachers’ union hope that their one-day strike will highlight the effects reduced real-terms funding will have on children’s learning and teachers’ working conditions.

NUT rallies will be taking place at 44 locations around the country, ranging from London to Durham, and from Cornwall to Birkenhead.

Kevin Courtney, NUT acting general secretary, said: “Teachers do not take strike action lightly. The problems facing education, however, are too great to be ignored, and we know many parents share our concerns.”

He claimed that schools are facing the worst funding cuts since the 1970s. “The decisions which headteachers have to make are damaging to our children and to young people’s education,” he said.

“Class sizes going up, school trips reduced, materials and resources reduced, and subjects – particularly in the arts – removed from the curriculum. Teaching posts are being cut or not filled when staff leave. All of this just to balance the books.”

Mr Courtney added that he believed “the majority of schools” would be affected “either through complete closure, partial closure or reduced timetable”.

In a ballot held over a month, from May to June, 91.7 per cent of union members voted in favour of industrial action. Turn-out for the ballot was 24.5 per cent.

The union has said that its demands are to increase funding to schools and education, guarantee terms and conditions in all types of schools, and to resume negotiations on teacher contracts to allow workload to be addressed.

Last week, the NUT wrote to education secretary Nicky Morgan, laying out three conditions for cancelling the strike. The union called on her to fund schools sufficiently to cover growing staff costs, such as increased National Insurance contributions and to tell academies that they must have regard for national terms and conditions. They also wanted her to promise meaningful talks in order to seek a full resolution of the dispute.

However, in a recent letter to Mr Courtney, education secretary Nicky Morgan accused the NUT of “playing politics with children’s futures over the issue of pay and conditions”.

She added that it was disingenuous to suggest her department was not prioritising school funding.

“The significance we place on education is demonstrated by the fact that we are investing more than any previous government in our schools,” she wrote.

The Department for Education played down the strike, saying it was expected to affect hundreds, rather than thousands of schools.

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