Thursday 6 March 2014

Answering Cable's insults

The first thing that colleagues wanted to talk to me about when I got to school this morning was their anger at Vince Cable's latest insult.

I am sure my staff weren't alone in feeling outraged at yet another politician criticising teachers. His choice of complaint - about deficiencies in career guidance  - is particularly galling. Why? Because it is Cable's Government that is responsible for cuts to the dedicated Connexions service, alongside budget cuts that have also slashed much of the additional career guidance once provided by councils.

The Education Select Committee have warned Ministers that cutting services, then simply expecting schools to fill the gap without additional resources, was going to undermine support to youngsters. Clearly Cable wasn't listening.

Instead, Cable chose to try and get a cheap laugh at the expense of teachers by accusing us of not knowing about the 'world of work'. The real problem is that politicians like Cable don't know about the world of education.

Many teachers have a wealth of experience from other employment. All of us work hard trying to equip our students with the skills they need to try to make their way forward in the uncertain future that lies in front of many of them. What we can't be expected to do is to provide specialised career guidance on top of the other responsibilities that already lead teachers to be working 50 to 60 hours a week!

I was glad to make some of these points on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 this lunchtime and hope that I was able to speak up for the teaching profession. For the next few days, the discussion can be heard on the BBC Radio iplayer on (35 - 43 minutes).

Nick Clegg is now apologising for Vince Cable, realising perhaps the offence that his remarks have caused. Unfortunately for the LibDems, his comments won't be forgotten by teachers.

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