DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Why do the children always come last?

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Why do the children always come last?

The Government and teaching unions were at least agreed on one thing yesterday – that there is a crisis in our schools.

Over the three years since Covid struck, pupils have seen appalling disruption to their education.

In 2020-21 alone they lost an average of 61 days (roughly one third) of their schooling and many have failed to catch up since.

The poorest have been worst affected and absences are still so high that some speak of a generation of ‘ghost children’ who have simply disappeared from school rolls, possibly never to return.

One might think everyone in the educational establishment would be working flat out to make up for lost lessons and coax the missing children back to the classroom.

Sadly, however, the National Education Union apparently believes striking for higher pay is more important (file image) 

Sadly, however, the National Education Union apparently believes striking for higher pay is more important.

One NEU official claimed members had been left with ‘no choice’ but to strike and another described the Government’s improved pay offer as ‘insulting’.

The first of these assertions is simply wrong. No one is forcing teachers to strike. It is their choice and theirs alone.

Secondly, why would ministers want to insult teachers? They are desperate to end this dispute and have offered a settlement many would regard as more than reasonable in these difficult economic times.

Teachers would receive an average salary increase of 4.5 per cent next year, on top of the 5.4 per cent they had in September, plus a £1,000 one-off cash payment. The starting wage for newly qualified teachers would rise by 7.1 per cent to a minimum of £30,000.

And all this in addition to one of the most generously funded pension schemes in existence. It is a package few in the private sector would find insulting.

This paper urges teachers to call off the strikes and pursue their claims in a less damaging way. After all, how are they going to persuade the thousands of absentee children to come back to school, when they themselves are wilfully deserting classrooms?

Facts about grooming

Home Secretary Suella Braverman was subjected to a predictable chorus of criticism from Labour for pointing out that some child grooming gangs had been ‘overwhelmingly British Pakistani males’.

In the notorious Rotherham, Rochdale and Telford scandals, this was demonstrably true, and when victims came forward, the authorities allegedly failed to act because of ‘cultural sensitivities’.

Most abusers are not from ethnic minorities. But where they are, the police must treat them like any other offenders and not be hamstrung by political correctness. Victims must come first.

Shift power balance

By stitching up a deal with Russia to cut oil production and drive up the price of crude, Saudi Arabia is playing a dangerous diplomatic game.

Aligning with Vladimir Putin will cause another severe dent in the kingdom’s already battered reputation. It should also make the UK start taking energy security seriously.

There are untapped oil and gas fields in the North Sea which must now be opened up, despite objections from the green lobby.

It will be many years before renewables can replace fossil fuels. In the meantime, isn’t it better to exploit our own reserves than be held hostage by capricious foreign regimes?

Keir Starmer may have had a good grammar school education, but he clearly wasn’t paying attention during biology lessons. 

First he couldn’t say whether women could have penises. Now he claims one in a thousand females do. 

Once again, Sir Keir is hopelessly muddled on this major issue. It’s time he decided which is more important, the rights of the trans lobby or those of women and girls.

Having wept like a baby on his conviction, Thomas Cashman yesterday refused to attend court to hear sentence passed, denying Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s family some closure.

For justice to be seen to be done, the murdered girl’s mother should have been able to look this contemptible coward in the eye while giving her heart-breaking impact statement.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has pledged a new law compelling criminals to be in court for sentencing – by force if necessary. 

This appalling case shows why it can’t come too soon.

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