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Despite working in an “extremely tough” environment among savage budget cuts, teachers in Northern Ireland continue to show resilience and courage as they inspire the children in their care, NASUWT members heard.
 
NASUWT Northern Ireland President Susan Parlour said teachers were doing an “amazing job” and were creating environments of hope and possibility for their pupils.
 
Speaking at the Union’s Northern Ireland Annual Conference in Belfast, Ms Parlour was critical of the "political myopia and a penny-pinching approach to education". This approach was “compromising the futures of the voiceless and the most vulnerable in our society,” she warned.

She said: “Now, more than ever before we see schools right across Northern Ireland struggling, with larger class sizes, less money available for books and basic resources, and potentially, wide-scale teacher redundancies.”

Ms Parlour said by cutting services for some of the most vulnerable children, including those with Special Educational Needs, politicians in Northern Ireland “know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”

She added: "While these cuts were being imposed mercilessly on our schools, let's not forget that our government saw fit to send millions of pounds up in smoke  in the flawed RHI scheme."

Ms Parlour, who is head of English at St Cecilia’s College in Derry, went on: “Our pupils should be prioritised, not punished for a financial crisis they did not cause.

“They should be valued and viewed as the future builders and guardians of peace and prosperity in a place where sectarianism, division and poverty have prevailed in the past.

“They should be afforded the resources required to flourish and grow in educational spaces, rather than be expected to shut up and put up with endless cuts which are manifesting themselves in concrete terms in classrooms across the North.”

Ms Parlour praised teachers for their commitment and dedication as professionals who “always go the extra mile for their children”.

But offering teachers 0% was the “final straw” and sent out a clear message that Northern Ireland’s Executive did not value teachers or education, she said.

The pay issue was a “rallying call” to teachers to take strike action in November and January.

Praising their action she told them: “You are the heroes of this story and we are not finished yet. We will continue to fight on and continue with our rolling strike action because we know that we are worth more than zero per cent.”

She concluded: “Colleagues, together, as a union, we are strong and by standing together, remaining united in our common goal to better the education system, for teachers and pupils, we have the power to resist the current narrative, change the script and write our next chapter.”
 

 

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