Many constituents have contacted me about teachers’ pay.

Teachers do an incredible job. They devote their time, energy to help our children learn and develop. Yet, they have seen their salaries fall since 2010 and the Government imposed further real term cuts for most teachers this year.

This dispute is not just about pay. Teachers are overworked, overstretched and feel undervalued; and this is taking its toll. Ministers continue to miss their own recruitment targets and schools are struggling to retain teachers, with almost a third leaving the profession within five years. Many teachers have now decided to take industrial action, which I know is a decision they have not taken lightly.

We have known that strikes might happen since last summer, with NASUWT and the National Education Union both calling for above-inflation increases to teachers’ pay. Yet, Ministers have disappointingly failed to prevent them. There is still time to prevent further strikes. Unions want to negotiate, and they are showing themselves willing to work for an agreement, but the Government must take responsibility, offer meaningful negotiations and find a solution. Otherwise, it will be Ministers’ failure that disrupts children’s education and parents’ working lives.

I want to see the Government do more to support our teachers and ensure they are free to focus on ensuring the highest standards in our schools. That is why I support calls to end tax breaks for private schools and use the money raised to recruit 6,500 new teaching staff, filling vacancies to reduce teachers’ workloads.

I also want to see that money used to deliver professional careers advisers in school and colleges, mental health hubs in every community and access to a professional mental health counsellor in every school. This means teachers would no longer have to step in to compensate for struggling mental health services or fill the gap in careers advice.

Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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