This week’s strikes will only serve to damage the education of thousands of children in Southampton and disrupt the lives of hard working parents. Many parents will themselves lose a day’s pay as they have to take the day off work and others will have to pay the cost of making alternative child care arrangements.
Southampton’s schools are driving up standards and results are improving year after year. One of the key drivers of improvement is better attendance. The more children are in school the better they do. The reverse is true; the more children miss school the more this sets back their progress. Strikes this week and perhaps in coming months are therefore damaging and wrong.
Schools in Southampton will be doing their best under these difficult circumstances; with some able to keep their school open or partly open for some year groups, or able to facilitate self study for older children.
Schools need to know how many teachers will be off work and how many are working in order to plan ahead, to communicate early with parents and to run an open or partly open school on the day. It is therefore deeply irresponsible of some of the more militant elements among the union leaders to be advocating that teachers refuse to tell their school if they will be in work or not. This is designed to maximise disruption to the school and to parents and ultimately to the education of children in the city. The union leaders should respect the right of teachers to come into school and teach if they choose and I am sure parents across the city will be very thankful to those that do.
Politics should be kept out of schools and the focus of everyone – school heads, the unions, the teaching profession and parents should be on delivering for children.