Thousands of striking teachers march through Brighton

Thousands of striking teachers marched through Brighton in the hope of “a fully funded above-inflation pay rise” today (Wednesday 1 February).

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) from primary and secondary schools Brighton and Hove and East Sussex marched from The Level to the Holiday Inn on the seafront.

They joined a rally alongside representatives of the University and College Union (UCU), the train drivers’ union ASLEF and members of the Commercial Services Union.

NEU junior vice president Phil Clarke said that there had been a positive reaction to teachers on picket lines today and drivers tooted the gathering at The Level.

He said: “The reaction has been really good. We’ve been on picket lines this morning and there’s lots of support.

“Parents understand that schools are struggling to keep teachers, to keep support staff and that impacts on the kids.”

Brighton and Hove NEU president Sean Humphries, who works as a history teacher at Longhill High School, took part in the march.

He said: “It’s a positive turnout for teachers across the city with maximum support for what the union is trying to do, not only to achieve an above-inflation pay rise but also to improve the conditions in which we’re working in schools.

“It’s not just for the teachers but for the children we teach. Teachers haven’t had a pay rise since 2010 which calculates for me, I’ve lost £65,000 in 13 years, and teachers across the board are angry about that.”

Retired Longhill teacher Jon Wilson, the assistant to the NEU treasurer in Brighton and Hove, said: “This has come on the back of 13 years of below-inflation pay increases. Teachers and social workers have been the most damaged by austerity.

“This is a very expensive place to live here in Brighton and Hove and recruitment and retention are real issues for schools.

“You can get younger teachers but they won’t stay because they can’t buy somewhere to live and raise a family because it’s too expensive.”

Phil Clarke

Coombe Road Primary School teacher Kate Folley said that a lack of money and resources affected children in the classroom.

She said: “We need to let people know this is not just about wages. It’s about resourcing schools.

“We’re letting the public know that the pay award suggested by the government, that pay award would come out of existing budgets without schools being given the extra money to pay for it.”

Among the crowds were City Academy Whitehawk teachers who shared their concerns about funding more than their pay.

One teacher, George Isaacs, said: “This is more about the school funding than a pay rise. At the moment, the 5 per cent pay rise is coming out of existing school budgets that are already under pressure.

“Britain spends about 4 per cent of its GDP on education when most developed countries in the EU are spending in excess of 5 (per cent).”

  1. Benjamin Reply

    Unsurprisingly, I’m 100% for an inflation-beating pay rise. It doesn’t take a particularly economic mind to easily see the country can, in fact, afford it, along with the benefits of doing so.

    • Jane Reply

      No benefits. It will just stoke inflation and lead to people losing their homes when interest rates go up. Almost no one the private sector has had these kinds of pay rises and these teachers don’t even care about children’s education of they are striking when they already are behind on theii education after covid.

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