I WAS amazed to read the article by James Robinson in the Daily Echo of January 30: Staff at Valentine Primary School (members of the National Education Union) (NEU) are set to vote on positive strike action over proposed job losses.

Apparently union chiefs say the school has been told by Southampton City Council that it needs to cut almost a million pounds from its staffing budget over the next 3-5 years. The NEU says headteacher Liz Filer has issued proposals to cut 2.2 full-time equivalent teacher posts and make significant reductions to support staff.

My first observation on this article was: why on earth is this government still proposing to cut education staff at a time when we are set to leave the EU March 29 and we obviously need to retain teachers and support staff to provide the very best quality education for our young people? How else can we possibly expect to compete with the skills of nations such as China, Brazil and India?

Whomever has made this decision really does not understand how far we need to go in the education of our youngsters just to keep pace with these nations, let alone hope to exceed them.

The NEU has received proposals to make union members redundant and replace them with agency staff. The cuts proposed for support staff will not only cause a huge increase in workload for the teachers, but will have a disastrous effect on pupils' educational achievement in the long run. No-one will gain from this, except those parents fortunate enough to afford private education, where the teacher/staff ratio is so much smaller – no wonder they generally achieve such wonderful results and significantly more places at our best universities! Bringing in agency staff will be very expensive, as it has already proved in the NHS: it is not a panacea and pupils' education will suffer.

It has to be wrong for a country, which has the sixth largest economy in the world, to propose job cuts in education when it is obvious that the education of our youth will be affected as a direct result. Strike action is always a last resort. Hopefully it will not come to this, but the government should not even be contemplating cuts in education, especially at this time of uncertainty over Brexit. If anything, we should be putting more money into education as it is our future wealth creation bedrock and the route for our youth to reach their full potential, which in turn brings in higher tax receipts for the exchequer.

I am convinced that this whole situation has arisen due to stringent government cuts to council budgets, resulting in less money for education, health and other public services. Unless the government comes to terms with the true effect of their policies, this appalling situation will continue.

According to James Robinson's article, the announcement comes following a Christmas plea by Ms Filer asking parents to donate basic equipment to boost their dwindling supplies. This resulted in school resource company Twinkle (which is based more than 200 miles away in Sheffield) answering the plea for help by delivering 5,030 items to the school! It strikes me that this is very generous, but not far off something equivalent to the use of food banks in current society, as the school must be near breaking point for this to happen.

When will we ever learn that, in life, you reap what you sow – in education and everything else!


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