Bridgwater Labour Party took to the streets today protesting about the state of Education under the Tories with their school cuts , teacher shortages and declining standards. Eastover residents Glen Burrows, a former teacher, and Gemma Shanahan, a student at Bridgwater college were out there with them along with Eastover councillor and deputy Mayor Tony Heywood. And the protest is timely, because this week sees Trades Unionists at Bridgwater & Taunton College from the Trade Union UCU out on strike for the first time in 11 years while later in the month the Labour Party will be holding a public meeting on Education at the Railway Club in Bridgwater.
Gary Tucker, Labour Branch Secretary, said “When it fails, it isn’t just the individual that is held back, but all of us. When we invest in people to develop their skills and capabilities, we all benefit from a stronger economy and society.
At a time when working lives and the skills our economy needs are changing rapidly, governments have the responsibility to make lifelong learning a reality by giving everyone the opportunity to access education throughout their lives.
To meet this responsibility, Labour will create a unified National Education Service (NES) for England to move towards cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use. The NES will be built on the principle that ‘Every Child – and Adult Matters’ and will incorporate all forms of education, from early years through to adult education.”
Meeting in Eastover on 16 Feb
On Saturday 16th February Jean Brent of the Anti-Academies Alliance and National education Union will be speaking at a Labour Party meeting to be held at the Railway Club on Wellington Road, Bridgwater from 2pm to 4pm. Organiser and Eastover resident Glen Burrows, the Bridgwater Labour Party Trades Union Liaison Officer, says “England is the only country in the UK which is handing over schools to unaccountable organisations, often against the wishes of parents, teachers and communities. We are constantly hearing about academy bosses making dodgy money from our children’s education. 81% of us believe in public ownership of our schools. So how do we take them back?Education isn’t something to be bought and sold. Let’s take back our schools”
Strike this week
Teachers will be out on strike from Tuesday 29th January with picket lines set up from 7 in the morning. John Fones, Chair of the 180-strong University and College Union (UCU) , Bridgwater and Taunton College Branch, has invited “all Somerset Trades Unionists and their families to support their picket lines” at the times and places shown below. There will also be a Bridgwater solidarity meeting at the Blake Statue, 12.30pm on Tuesday (Weather permitting)”
Why are the UCU striking?
John Fones says: “College staff across the country have not received pay rises that have kept them in step with inflation or with colleagues in schools for many years. Our members have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% over the last decade. College Lecturers, for example, are now paid on average £7000 per year less than their colleagues with similar experience, skills and qualifications who teach in schools. Other colleagues such as assessors, technicians and Learning and other Assistants are often paid even less and there are even college staff around the country who have been forced to use food banks. FE (Further Education) is truly the Cinderella education service.”