Unions anger as teachers ‘gagged’

Joanne Gould, Vice-President of Fylde NUT, speaking at the public meeting
Joanne Gould, Vice-President of Fylde NUT, speaking at the public meeting
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Union leaders have hit out a ‘purdah’ rules which they claim prevented headteachers from speaking out about school budgets in the run-up to the General Election.

The Fylde branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) held a meeting last week at Wesham Community Centre to raise concerns about education spending.

They had hoped headteachers would address the meeting attended by a number of election candidates, but rules which mean local authority staff must remain neutral during campaigning, meant they could not speak.

Ken Cridland, president of Fylde NUT, said: “This purdah rule was originally designed to ensure civil servants who are close to politicians remain neutral during election campaigns, but is now being used as a gagging order to stop those working in public services from telling us what is going on.”

Teacher Joanne Gould, vice-president of Fylde NUT, said, “I am an angry woman. I am going to speak up.

“There are cuts continually going on now which are damaging the education we provide. We are losing teachers. Courses are being cut. Remaining staff are under more pressure.”

A letter sent to schools by Lancashire County Council warns head teachers against getting involved in “politically contentious” issues, particularly if this could indicate support for or opposition to “specific parties and their policies.”

It adds “the rules are clear that this is not permitted”.

In April, nine Fylde headteachers wrote to parents warning they were struggling to balance the books, while Devonshire Primary Academy, in Layton, announced a review of its teaching assistant roles.

Read more about school cutbacks here