Dad blasts his son's 'lack of education' as teachers walk out

Hundreds of striking teachers marched through the streets of Oxford as their long-running dispute over pay continues <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Hundreds of striking teachers marched through the streets of Oxford as their long-running dispute over pay continues (Image: PA)

An Oxfordshire primary school teacher said his seven year old son has "not attended a day of school" due to a lack of provision.

Alan Armstrong, a 41-year-old, was speaking as hundreds of teachers marched through the streets of Oxford on Thursday over a long-running pay dispute.

He said: “There’s no spaces in the special education schools because they have no funding.

READ MORE: Teacher strikes: Union leader joins Oxford march and rally

“Something needs to change, my son hasn’t had an education.

“He’s about to turn seven and he has yet to do a full day in school because his needs are very different.

“It’s not his school’s fault, they’re trying so hard.”

Mr Armstrong said it was his sixth day of striking during the long-running dispute and he estimates he has lost £800 to £900 in pay.


“I can’t afford to strike and I can’t afford not to,” he added.

Many secondary schools in England have prioritised Year 11 and Year 13 students during the strikes, with GCSE and A-level exams weeks away.

Jean Ramsey, a 69-year-old education coach at a school in Oxfordshire, said students can no longer build relationships with teachers due to rapid turnover.

She said: “I work with young people who are anxious and overwhelmed.

“I have seen such a difference since the pandemic because nobody can build relationships of trust.

“There’s so much churn in the staff, they don’t know the students, and why should the students trust them, because they won’t stick around.”

Marchers held signs reading ‘I’d rather be teaching but this is important’ and ‘I’ve got 99 problems and cuts to education funding has caused all of them’.

They were joined by a samba school, who banged drums to the tune of Mickey by Toni Basil while marchers chanted “Hey Rishi, you’re so tight, you’re so tight you made us strike.”

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, was also on the streets of Oxford for the march.

Oxford Mail: Mary Bousted
Oxford Mail: Mary Bousted

Mary Bousted (Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

She said striking teachers were “reasonable people” who want “a long-term correction in teachers’ pay” as NEU members staged a walkout across the country.

Dr Bousted added that the NEU is prepared to accept that pay resolution cannot be done “within a year” and a “three-year deal” would be a more reasonable solution.

“But we do want a long-term correction which brings teachers’ pay back up,” she said.

“Education is in crisis every day of the week. We have the government missing its secondary teacher training targets by 40 per cent.

“It’s going to miss its primary recruitment targets by 25 per cent next year.”

The NEU rejected the government’s recent offer of a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year (2022/23), and an average 4.5 per cent pay rise for staff next year, causing the strikes on Thursday.

The High Court ruled on Thursday the RCN must cut the strike action short as its six-month mandate from a ballot of members in November ended just before midnight on May 1, rather than the following day.

Dr Bousted added: “The government should not be spending money on lawyers and taking nurses to court.

“The government should be doing with nurses what it should be doing teachers, and that’s sitting down at the table and negotiating – it’s not hard.

“If they were serious about settling these strikes, they’d come and negotiate.”

Another NEU strike is planned to go ahead next week Tuesday.