Politics is an evil which is necessary to education but it should not be its ruling force

1 May

8 April 2015
By Deborah Lawson, General Secretary

There is no doubt that the teaching profession, and education as a whole, have experienced what amounts to a tsunami of change during the current administration.  The education and childcare workforce recognises the need for change. However, the pace of that change has been fast and short – too short to adequately test, develop, review, implement and realise its benefits.  Far too often, the blame for failure has fallen on dedicated education and childcare professionals. 

The motions debated by other unions at their conferences demonstrate the unions’ common ground. The difference is how Voice, through reasoned negotiation and engagement, not industrial action, seeks to achieve its priorities for the professionals it represents.   

Commitment to meaningful engagement

It is essential that, whatever colour(s) make up the next administration, there is a commitment to consistent and meaningful engagement with education and childcare professionals, enabling them to contribute to change and, in doing so, reduce criticism directed at them.  (See our election statement.) It is in this way that those who know can inform policy that will work. 

Politics is an evil which is necessary to education. It should not, however, be its ruling force. 

Whatever the make-up of the next administration, Voice looks forward to working positively with it.

Voice applauds the recognition that the planned curriculum changes in Wales will take time – time that exceeds the political cycle. It is to be hoped that politics can aid, and not hinder, such planned progress. 

We would recommend a similar approach to other politicians and would celebrate any administration that is brave enough to lift education policy out of the political box and constraints that are currently limiting the profession and young people’s aspirations and achievements. 

[Adapted from an article written for April/May 2015 Your Voice.] 

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3 Responses to “Politics is an evil which is necessary to education but it should not be its ruling force”

  1. Richard Fraser 14. Apr, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    “Teacher strikes divide us. Let’s unite instead” by Fiona Millar in The Guardian:
    http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/apr/13/teacher-strikes-funding-heads-governors

    • Deborah Lawson, General Secretary 14. Apr, 2015 at 11:09 am #

      Fiona Millar is right. “Strikes are divisive”.

      Strikes hit children, families and schools – everyone except the intended target, the Government. They set back progress made in negotiations. They play into ministers’ hands, enhancing their standing with their party and the popular press, and giving them “the ability to divide and rule”.

      Rather than threatening the “blunt instrument” of strikes before the result of the election has even been announced, Voice(which does not take industrial action) looks forward to engaging positively with the next government, whatever form it takes.

      We are calling on the next administration to commit to meaningful engagement with education professionals and their representatives.

      Politics is an evil which is necessary to education. It should not be its ruling force. Ministers in Wales acknowledge that their planned curriculum changes will take longer than the political cycle. We recommend this approach to other politicians.

      “Strikes aren’t the solution”. Talking and working together over “the next five years” – and beyond – has to be the way to find long-term solutions.

      • Richard 10. May, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

        I do have a lot of sympathy with those battling change and political interference. Whilst much union opposition is biased and politically motivated, I can see why a lot of teachers are frustrated with the past 5 years. As someone new to the profession, I don’t think education is the only profession (public or private sector) which comes with unwanted and stifling interference from above. That said, I enjoy more freedom in this than I have any other previous job, despite the administrative burden. In any case, all of this misses the salient point.

        Politics isn’t necessarily an ‘evil’ and whether you like it or not, we are paid for by the public who also elect their preferred government to implement policy. Whether or not you agree or disagree with policy, we are a democracy and the government of the day therefore oversees public services on behalf of the taxpayer and the country. The country has spoken and we all have the choice and freedom to pursue another career if we can’t stomach political change and inteference.

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