The end of another exam season is nigh. Soon, thousands of teenagers will be leaving fourteen years of compulsory education overseen by a Conservative government. During this time they have been subject to the ravages of austerity, the chaos of Covid and the whims of no less than ten different education secretaries. Support for children from birth to the age of nineteen has been devastated by the eradication of SureStart centres, the Connexions service and Educational Maintenance Allowance. What a tragic legacy.

Since the Tories came into power in 2010, they have systematically undermined support for families and young people. Michael Gove, as the first in a long line of Education Secretaries, immediately set about putting his stamp on the lives of school-age children with the widespread “academisation” of schools. In this process, the control of schools and their spending is passed from local authorities to small groups of business-like individuals, who often oversee large “multi-academy trusts”. Now, 40% of primary and 80% of secondary schools operate as academies in what is arguably a significant move towards privatisation.

Gove didn’t stop there. In 2014, against the advice of the experts, he launched a new-look national curriculum that had pupils as young as seven using fronted adverbials to “uplevel” their sentences. “British values” are in, but art, music and physical education are an afterthought. Kids are at breaking point; under-18 referrals for severe mental health issues such as “suicidal thoughts and self-harm” are at an all-time high. Even the buildings are crumbling as they reach the end of their designed life expectancy, with the DofE noting many aging school blocks are at “risk of collapse”.

Teachers are at breaking point too, with huge pressure to push children through a linear system. With little or no funding for basics, some feel the need to spend their wages on equipment like pencils and glue-sticks. Many spend hours of unpaid time into the evenings, planning and marking work. It’s no wonder teachers are leaving the profession in their droves. Earlier this year, headteacher Ruth Perry took her own life due to the stress of a pending Ofsted inspection.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Teachers care passionately about what they do; the recent NEU strike action is not just about pay, they are marching to save education. You can make a difference too, by voting in a government which stands with teachers. By voting for Labour, you are voting for increasing staffing in schools, with more emotional and professional support for teachers and headteachers. You are voting to reform Ofsted, and free school meals for primary children. You are voting for a curriculum that provides opportunities like music and practical life skills. You are voting for the next generation.

If you would like to know more, get in touch with your local Labour Party and even better, get involved: