Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Finish this sentence: “The future is...”

The future is not orange (a clever commercial campaign that has longevity, humor, something of the ridiculous about it). The future to me seems grey, smothered in a thick, shocking and blinding fog.

The future is... 

What would you say the future is? For you, for the elderly, children, those who require special assistance? It’s important we stop to think.

For some young people currently going through the education system, they don't see a bright future. An inspiring young man, Michael, spoke at an NEU rally on November 20th. He joined thousands of teachers, parents and MPs marching to the Department of Education (DfE) to raise awareness and promote growing feelings of outrage, shock and disappointment towards real-term funding cuts to special needs, post-16 and early years education facilities in the UK. 
At 11 years old, he stated confidently and clearly that he felt he had “missed his chance” at an education. He spoke eloquently about his experience of being abandoned by his school which was unable to provide for his needs. Michael, like 700,000 people in the UK (that’s roughly 1 in 100), has autism (autism.org.uk). His closing line was what hit home the most: “we are the ones who will be looking after you when you’re old, so look after us now.” How can anyone deny the truth in that?
So what is making Michael feel this way and what can we do to alleviate this sad, sorry state of affairs?
The NEU, the largest teaching union body with over 500,000 members, called for a rally to the DfE as part of a wider initiative and series of events to raise public awareness of the real terms effects of budget cuts and belt tightening required by schools leaders. In addition, they are balloting members and calling for #handsup support through social media to force the Government to amend their failing promises, which amounts to 12% of public spending UK (that’s about £34bn). There are serious concerns about the impact of the 2018 budget announcements by The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond on schools, early learning centers and sixth forms across the country, particularly in low economic areas and in low income families, who are already feeling damaging and demoralizing effects of the new Universal Credit system.
A short scan of the new UK TV series ‘School’ is enough to provide a behind-the-scenes honest account of the real lives and everyday challenges of students, teachers, parents and the expectations of leadership in school - whose success varies greatly across the UK. This seems like a great and accessible way to reach the greater public. Unfortunately, it might not reach the eyes and ears of those in power unless the public take action and speak out, write to their MPs and support their local schools.

So on behalf of all children, all parents, all teachers and leaders who are trying to look after every child in their care, I appeal to the Government to look carefully at their budgets and spending, to look carefully at what they invest their money in: are Academies really making the difference they promised? And how much did it cost the UK taxpayer to bail out Carillion, the firm hired by the Government to complete school building developments?).
Dear Government - think carefully about who the money is for? Because it certainly sounds like, at the moment, it’s not for Michael.

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