Parents leave comments about what tehy want their, photo by Iain Dalton

Parents leave comments about what tehy want their, photo by Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

“I want my children’s education to not be jam-packed full of pointless tests that I can’t do!” was just one of the posters filled in by angry parents at a public meeting in Harehills, Leeds on 9 June.

Parents for Education organised the meeting at Bankside Primary School to discuss recent topical issues about education, such as the government’s forced academisation plans and the controversies around SATs tests.

Patrick Murphy, Leeds National Union of Teachers (NUT) divisional secretary, highlighted the crisis in education. Such is the pressure now on children in schools that stress due to exams is the main cause of depression and self-harm according to a recent report.

There is also a school places crisis which is particularly acute in Leeds, where 60 parents in the north east of the city didn’t get any of their five choices of schools for their children.

Strike ballot

The NUT is balloting for strike action over these attacks, demanding in effect a national contract for teachers, so that pay and conditions are not determined academy by academy as the government intends.

Richard Burgon, Labour MP for East Leeds, was the second speaker. He admonished the record of Labour under Blair which was responsible for introducing academies and tuition fees at universities.

Several questions went into the detail of the attacks and how to organise to resist them. Perhaps most striking was that asked by a local Labour councillor who said that to get rid of these attacks we would need to elect a Labour government in 2020, but how do we ensure that it is committed to repealing these changes?

Burgon’s response was to state that he’d like to see the Tory government gone this year! But, he added, it would need to be replaced by ‘the right kind of Labour government’.

The Socialist Party agrees that we need a government that puts the interests of workers and their families first – a task that if delayed until 2020 will see austerity devastate the lives of many more people.