The BBC is reporting that teachers are emerging as one of the most powerful political lobbies in the UK thanks to clever use of data and social media – but some politicians are crying foul.
Kevin Courtney insists it was never his aim to wipe out Theresa May’s Commons majority. The leader of Britain’s biggest teaching union this week told his members they had succeeded in making school funding the biggest issue at the 2017 general election.
And he made “no apology” for spending £326,306 of their money – more than UKIP or the Green Party – on campaigning in the year before the snap election.
Critics say the main beneficiary of this was the Labour Party, which was promising a £6bn annual boost to school budgets.
Speaking to the BBC a few days before the conference, he said: “We were trying to create pressure in every political party to say you have to fund education properly.”
The late surge in support for the Labour Party in the run up to the general election has never been fully explained, and probably never will be. No one can read the minds of thousands of voters.
What set the NEU campaign apart from the hundreds of others jostling for voters’ attention last June – according to the Sheila McKechnie Foundation which gave it an award – was its school cuts website, also funded by the GMB and NAHT unions.
Mr Courtney says the union’s campaign was a “big part of the reason” why then Education Secretary Justine Greening announced an extra £1.3bn for schools in England, over two years, immediately after the election.
“We can say that we spent £326,000 but we got £1.3bn for schools and we are very pleased with that,” says Mr Courtney.
Read more about education’s influence on the election Did teachers wipe out Theresa May’s majority?
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