The fight for better pay has forced one Stevenage teacher to make the “hard decision” of striking with the National Education Union (NEU). 

Jill Borcherds, a maths teacher who has taught secondary schools in Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City for the past 27 years, joined the union when she trained to become a teacher and is now an NEU Eastern Regional Council Officer as well. 

The Marriotts School teacher followed in her mum's footsteps of becoming a teacher, but over the years she has seen the shortages in not just funds, but also people coming into the profession.  

Jill said: “Teaching is a way of life, a vocation, we are driven by a wish to improve the lives of the young people we work with.  

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“The decision to strike is always a very hard decision to take.  

“I know that the NEU are in talks with the government - so I hope the strikes could still be called off - but if the NEU does strike, yes, I expect to myself.” 

For the ballot of teachers that voted for strike action in England, a 90.44 per cent majority voted YES on a turnout of 53.27 per cent.   

NEU stated: “The ballot is a result of failure by the Secretary of State in England to ensure enough money is available to pay a fully funded increase in pay for teachers which at least matches inflation, and which begins to restore lost pay.” 

Jill added: “This strike is not about our own individual schools; it is a dispute with the government and their sustained cuts in funding to the whole education sector.” 

According to the union, the strikes will affect 23,400 schools, and will take place on Wednesday, February 1; Tuesday, February 14; Tuesday, February 28; Wednesday, March 1;  Thursday, March 2; Wednesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 16, in different locations. 

The NEU is seeking a pay rise in line with inflation for staff, saying successive real terms pay cuts is creating an “unsustainable situation” for members and the profession. 

Jill continued: “This action is most definitely not just about pay but ensuring that pay rises are fully funded so that schools do not have to make further cuts that affect the education of our children. 

“Throughout my career, I have always been acutely aware of the serious issues around recruitment and retention of teachers - especially in my own subject, maths.” 

Speaking about teachers coming into the profession, Jill said: “I love my job, but I have always said the worst aspect is the serious shortage of teachers which impacts on everything we all aspire to do. 

“Typically, schools across Hertfordshire and beyond can advertise maths vacancies and receive no applications at all. 

“Recruitment is particularly difficult in the home counties, where proximity to London means a higher cost of living, particularly rent and house prices, but where no additional London allowance is paid. 

“Too many teachers leave the profession after a few years – it was also recently reported that 30 per cent of teachers trained between 2011 and 2020 have already done so.” 

NEU added: “The government has been happy to sit by as their own recruitment targets are routinely missed.  

“Teachers are leaving in droves, a third gone within five years of qualifying. This is a scandalous waste of talent and taxpayers' money, yet the government seems unbothered about the conditions they are allowing schools and colleges to slide into. 

“The reasons for the recruitment and retention crisis are not a mystery; the reports in the last week from the IFS and the NFER confirm the NEU argument. 

"The government must know there is going to have to be a correction on teacher pay. They must realise that school support staff need a pay rise.” 

Jill finally added that she “regrets the disruption strike action will cause and it is the last thing schools and teachers want but this is about securing a better future for all out children.”