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Tackle the crisis in teaching, MLAs urged

By Laura Abernethy

Published 28/03/2016

Conference warning: Chris Keates
Conference warning: Chris Keates

Teachers have warned that politicians need to act urgently to address the growing crisis in Northern Ireland's schools.

The NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in Northern Ireland, delivered the warning during their annual conference in Birmingham.

The conference heard claims that the life chances of generations of children and young people will be seriously damaged if the attacks on teachers' pay and working conditions continue and the issues of teacher wastage and area planning are not addressed.

They called on the next Stormont administration to act urgently to address their concerns just weeks before voters prepare to go to the polls in May.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Teachers in Northern Ireland are reeling from school reorganisation, curriculum change, deep cuts to pay, deterioration in their conditions of service and widespread job loss.

"Uncertainty hangs almost permanently over the heads of teachers and principals as the education system lurches from one crisis to another.

"Representatives have today set out in the motion their expectations.

"Teachers' dedication and commitment has for too long been taken for granted. Experienced teachers are being lost to the profession and talented graduates, trained at public expense, are unable to find a permanent job in their chosen career.

"The next administration in Stormont faces a turbulent time if these concerns remain unaddressed."

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT national official Northern Ireland, said: "Teachers are frustrated and angry at the failure of politicians to address their real and deep concerns."

In February, the NASUWT rejected Stormont's offer of a 1% pay rise as they said that it was a real terms pay cut. They called for an across the board, above inflation cost of living award.

Last week, the union said that we risk "losing our best young people" as the Belfast Telegraph reported less than a third of new teachers have secured long-term work.

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