Teachers from East Devon joined a national lobby of Parliament yesterday (Tuesday, June 20) as part of their ‘Save Our Schools’ campaign.

They were part of a delegation who told MPs their schools are in crisis. Devon representatives said the lack of education funding is leading to teachers and teaching assistants leaving and not being replaced, leading to a lack of staff to teach core subjects. Teachers said they were having to buy their own basic supplies such as paper and glue sticks. They also said provision for children with special educational needs is failing because of the lack of support staff.

Retired teacher Joanna Foreman lives in Honiton and used to teach at The King’s School, Ottery. She said: “I have never done anything like this in my life. But I felt I had to do something as I hear constantly from my friends who are still teaching that they are at the end of their tethers – the failure to fund schools properly means there is more pressure on staff and they leave, which in turn means more pressure on those left behind. This is having a terrible effect on the children that they teach.”

Midweek Herald: Mike Gurney, Devon NEU, and Paul Gosling, headteacher, Exeter Road Primary, Exmouth,NAHT

Paul Gosling, president of the National Association of Head Teachers and headteacher at Exeter Road primary in Exmouth, said: “Teachers are leaving the profession. We have a recruitment and retention crisis. We have a problem with workload, Ofsted, pay and funding. As a school leader, I want to pay teachers well and give children the education they deserve.”

The lobby was organised by unions and the National Governance Association.

Mike Gurney, joint secretary of Devon’s National Education Union (NEU), said: “The Government states that funding is at an all-time high – however this ignores the fact that there are a million more pupils than there were in 2010.

“Pay and funding and the crisis in recruiting and keeping staff are all linked. Poor pay means support staff can get paid more elsewhere and that teachers are not being recruited. One Head said that if they are looking for a maths or science teacher, you might as well be advertising for a unicorn. And unless pay rises are fully funded it just leads to more cuts.”

The NEU has agreed two days of strike action this term, on Wednesday July the 5 and Friday July 7. Union members are currently being re-balloted on further strikes.