Hundreds of the borough’s teachers are expected to walk out on strike in opposition to increasingly “unmanageable and exhausting workloads”.
More than 90 per cent of members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) voted in favour of industrial action and will walk out for a national one-day strike tomorrow, Tuesday, in protest against lack of funding in education, workload pressure and guarantees on terms and conditions.
Wigan’s NUT secretary Max Atkins has said that teachers are facing worsening work conditions as the shortage of school places increases. He said: “Sadly, the Brexit campaign blamed “immigrants” for the lack of school places. Firstly, most are refugees, not immigrants, and secondly, the NUT has been telling this government for the last six years - well before the refugee crisis - that a shortage of places in the system was looming.
“Refugees are not the problem, this government is. Osborne freezing spending and increasing national insurance costs to schools means teachers will lose their jobs, pupils will be taught in bigger classes and subject choices will be narrowed.
“Parents are on our side. We are striking to bring national attention to these worrying problems and urge whoever ends up in charge to restore funding levels immediately.”
Kevin Courtney, Acting General Secretary of the NUT has outlined how the cuts are damaging children’s education.
He said: “The NUT is not taking action lightly. In light of the huge funding cuts to schools, worsening terms and conditions, and unmanageable and exhausting workloads, teachers cannot be expected to go on without significant change. The effects on children’s education are also real and damaging.
“As a result of school funding cuts, class sizes in primary and secondary schools are increasing, subject choices are being cut, and children are getting less individual attention as teachers and support staff are made redundant or not replaced when they leave.”
Wigan Trades Council has expressed its support for the teachers.
The council secretary Stuart Bolton said: “Like the junior doctors and student nurses who are fighting to defend the NHS, teachers are now gearing up to fight to defend education.
“As a Trades Council we take defending public services seriously, and staff employed in our public services, like workers everywhere, deserve maximum resources, minimum pressures, and decent contracts.”
The NUT delegate to the council, Barry Conway said the strike will highlight the absurd situation where huge amounts of time and money are being squandered on privatising schools and negotiating individual contracts, when parents and children need stability and resources.