Morecambe MP '˜fed up' with kids' strikes

Morecambe MP David Morris has been criticised for telling Parliament that headteachers are 'unionising' children to make them go on strike.

Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 8:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 9:51 am
Photo Neil Cross David Morris, MP for Morecambe, is considering running for Tory leadership

Mr Morris told MPs that he is “fed up with unions politicising my children and constituency”.

He also drew comparisons between schools that have ties to unions and poor SATs results.

Carnforth Labour Coun Paul Gardner said Mr Morris’ statement was “nonsensical”.

Photo Neil Cross Parents have taken their children out of school in protest at new SATs and forced academies meeting at Ashton Memorial, Lancaster

Mr Morris said during a Parliamentary discussion about school funding on January 25: “I am fed up of the unions politicising my children and constituency. There are heads in my area who are unionising the kids to make them strike and stay off school.

“Surprise, surprise — their schools did the worst in the area, and therefore lowered my area’s results in the national SATs, which is unforgivable.”

Coun Gardner said: “This was a statement made in the House of Commons, thus, ipso facto, politicising ‘his’ children more than any trade union. It is neither a Labour administration in Lancaster nor Preston that is cutting local government funding.

“He needs to get out of London and meet locally the heads, NHS staff and local government administrations to hear what your government is doing to our services and stop trying to be clever in the House. He relies on Conservative propaganda to make up fantasies about the real state of struggling public services in our world.”

Photo Neil Cross Parents have taken their children out of school in protest at new SATs and forced academies meeting at Ashton Memorial, Lancaster

Mr Morris also slammed the website, run by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers unions, saying the figures used on the site have been “plucked out of thin air” and are “irresponsible”.

But according to The National Audit Office, schools face an eight per cent cut in pupil funding between 2015 and 2020 under the current spending settlement.

Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said that 98 per cent of schools would lose out under a new formula, currently under consultation.

Union leaders have predicted that secondary schools in the Lancaster district will lose around £2m in funding by 2020. Primary schools will also be signifantly affected, according to the report.

Peter Middleman, regional secretary for the NUT in the north west, said: “Teachers and headteachers are grappling with reduced budgets, discredited testing regimes and a workload burden which has created a recruitment and retention crisis in the profession.

“Rather than issuing slurs under Parliamentary Privilege which he is unable to substantiate, he would better serve his constituents by listening to their very genuine concerns about the impact his party’s policies are having on our schools.”

Mr Morris said he stood by his comments. “It’s pointless to make this issue personal as it does not address the seriousness of the issue at hand which is the standard of education for our children,” he said.

“Children in this constituency have sadly been made a political football by certain head teachers, being told to strike days before their SATs.

“At these schools the results have shown low pass rates and most worryingly low progress of the children.

“I do not meet politicised union groups. The head teachers cluster did receive a detailed response, from the Minister, to their concerns when they were raised through me. Their concerns were also raised by me on the floor of the House of Commons to the Secretary of State.

“Following the publication of the results one head has asked to meet with me and she has been offered a meeting at the highest level with myself and the Minister Nick Gibb MP in the Department of Education to raise her concerns.

“If she chooses not to attend the meeting there is nothing further for me to engage with as it is now in the remit education authorities who will be working with those schools whose results are well below average to ensure they are better for our children next year.”