The great thing about the debates at the national Lib Dem conference is that any member can put in a Speakers Card to request to contribute to the debate. You don’t know whether you will be called to the podium until the day so it’s a wise thing to prepare your few minutes in advance.
Portsmouth Lib Dems were lucky enough to get two speakers on the emergency motion of Recruitment and Retention of Teachers earlier this week. Cllr Suzy Horton (Lib Dem spokesperson for Education at PCC) and Sarah Shreeve (initial teacher training tutor) have both been in education for their entire careers and have more than 3 minutes each to say on the matter!
The motion highlighted the crisis situation that schools find themselves in at the moment with teacher training applications down by 10% and almost a third of teachers leaving the profession within 5 years.
Sarah focussed on the craft of teaching and the importance of retaining teachers who learn and share from each other and how their loss is a loss of knowledge, pedagogy and skills. The gaps left by these teachers are felt most keenly in rural, coastal and deprived areas where, arguably, stability and teacher expertise is needed even more, to close gaps in attainment- an issue particularly important in our coastal city of Portsmouth.
Suzy drew on nearly 30 years of experience in the profession and highlighted how her career started at the same time as the 1988 Education Reform Act, which has led to the marketisation of education and the micro-management of learning where data and measurements trump experiences and relationships. She highlighted the fact that it has taken nearly 3 decades to get to the current situation and it won’t be an easy task to reverse it.
Both supported the motion and suggested that valuing teachers is central to reenergising the profession, through:
- building up morale with praise and thanks
- reinstating pay that has been eroded in recent years, by lifting the 1pc pay cap
- improving working conditions via funding and reducing bureaucracy
- giving OFSTED the permission to make education the business of relationships again with freedom and choice for teachers to aspire to more than league table positions.
The spirit of the motion is only the start of inspiring new teachers and retaining current ones; but it is a start. In the meantime, they will continue to work every day with teachers in Portsmouth to help give the children in this city the best start in life.
You can read the motion in full by clicking this link - Emergency Motion: Recruitment and Retention of Teachers - and you can view Sarah's and Suzy's speeches below.