Teachers do an incredible job and I know from the many teachers in my own family just how hard they work. They have been devoting more time and energy to deal with the issues that stop children from learning as other support services for families have been cut. Yet, they have seen their salaries fall again and again since 2010, and the government imposed further real term cuts for most teachers this year.
It is not just about pay. Teachers are overworked, overstretched, and undervalued, and this is taking its toll. Ministers continue to miss their own recruitment targets and schools are struggling to retain teachers, with almost a third leaving the profession within five years. Many teachers have now decided to take industrial action, which I know is a decision they have not taken lightly.
Meanwhile Labour has a plan.
From reducing workloads to flexible working, Labour will work with teachers and leaders to ensure we recruit and retain the best staff in our schools. I also want to see that money used to deliver professional careers advisers in school and colleges, mental health hubs in every community and access to a professional mental health counsellor in every school.
As a Labour MP, I will always support your right to strike for better pay and conditions. Trade unions must be able to represent their members and to go into negotiation with the employers to achieve the best deal they can for their members’ pay, terms and conditions.
I want a Labour government for many reasons. One of the most important and urgent is to introduce our transformative Employment Bill in the first months of the next Labour government. It would strengthen trade unions and their ability to achieve fair pay for their members. You can read more about our ‘New Deal for Workers’ agenda and this draft Bill here.
The single most important, transformational, contribution I can make to the lives of working people is to ensure a Labour government and one which is ready to put that Bill into law as quickly as possible. That will continue to be my focus and my role in the labour movement I am so proud to be part of.
Visiting schools and nurseries in Bristol West and meeting has always been a priority for me. I try and visit every school once a year, visiting a school most Friday mornings. During a visit, I meet the head teacher, staff members, SEND and safeguarding leads and my personal favourite – take questions from students during assembly. If your school has not had a visit from me recently, please ask the head teacher to get in touch.