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My classrooms are cold and our teachers keep leaving – as a pupil, I’m supporting the teachers’ strike | Azadi Barbagallo Beuret

By Azadi Barbagallo Beuret,

Sixth-form students and teacher in a laboratory during science class Photograph: Janine Wiedel Photolibrary/Alamy

I think a lot of people think my generation don’t care about politics or aren’t interested. They underestimate how perceptive we are. We’re part of the world too. We sit in classrooms. We know that schools don’t have proper funding and that our teachers aren’t properly paid for the hard work they do.

Teachers should have better working conditions. They are teaching the next generation to move academically through the world, and they deserve to live and work comfortably.

My school feels different at the moment. Maybe it’s a result of my having moved into year 9, a step closer to GCSEs, or maybe it’s something that other young people are experiencing.

It’s been a lot colder in my classrooms, because the central heating is turned on less frequently due to bills going up. Leaks have appeared in some of our classroom ceilings. Students take good care of the school, but we can’t do repairs. There also seem to be fewer classroom materials. Maybe this is what happens when you go up a year, or maybe they cost too much?

Then there are all the teachers who have left. During the pandemic, there was a big drop in staff numbers and for months we had supply teachers. It was mainly in music, design technology and history. My favourite subjects – and those I hope to do at GCSE – are history, science and philosophy. I’ve really bonded with two teachers in the history and philosophy department because they’re so passionate about the subjects they teach.

I support their strike because they aren’t being paid enough to cope with the high costs of food, heating and electricity. We can’t lose any more teachers. I also don’t think any pay increase should come from the school’s money. That would make things worse for students.

Related: Teachers in England at ‘end of their tether’, says union chief

I think teachers should be paid more than bankers. They are important to our society. Bankers earn more than teachers and nurses and I couldn’t tell you a single thing a banker has done for me, but I can name a million things that teachers and nurses have done for me.

I learned about the famous thought experiment by John Rawls . You have to imagine that you are going to be reborn in the next life. In this life you don’t know whether you will be a king or a poor person. Now think about how you would design the society you are going to be reborn into. How much would you pay people? I think we would all decide to pay everybody equally for the work they do, because everybody’s contribution to society is important.

I wish we could have a clean slate, like in this experiment. As well as equal pay I would like to make all the necessities in life – energy, housing, food – free. I’d also change the way we produce energy. We live on an island here in the UK: it’s easy to use water and wind to generate power. Why are we still relying on fossil fuels that cost so much and are destroying our planet? Strikes, high prices, the climate crisis – they are all linked, and if people just realised that instead of treating things in little pockets we’d be closer to solving the issues we face.

  • Azadi Barbagallo Beuret is a year 9 pupil in an English school

  • Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here .

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