Mr Derek Baker
Department of Education
Dear Mr Baker
Voice represents many people working in education and childcare in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands. Originally a union for teachers, who continue to make up our core membership base, we have significant and growing membership amongst the wider education and early years workforce.
Voice recognises and respects the right of others who choose to take part in lawful industrial action. However, having always promoted the primacy of the child, we do not support industrial action which is injurious to education or to the interests or welfare of those children, pupils or students in our care. It is the belief of Voice members that it is possible to protect, support and promote the advancement of education and the professional education and childcare workforce without interrupting pupil education or involving them unnecessarily in disputes.
Our growing membership in Northern Ireland, while recognising the operational difficulties created by the deadlock in Stormont, is greatly exercised by the funding situation, including teacher pay, not least because of the increased pressure to do more with fewer resources it generates. They are also alarmed by reports of the increasing number of schools which are projected to be in debt or see debt escalate because of a political situation they are unable to influence.
Voice always considers it is in the best interests of members to engage positively with ministers and officials. In that context I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your earliest convenience for constructive dialogue on those matters which are important to and which impact on the education and childcare workforce in Northern Ireland.
Current Voice President Chris Wilson, who is based in Northern Ireland, and I wish to engage with you and your officials to explore how Voice can contribute to solutions to the current issues plaguing education and childcare in Northern Ireland and which impact on our members, pupils and students. We also request information on any existing meetings, and how to participate in them, which may be held between the Education Department and education unions in Northern Ireland.
I look forward to your response.
CC Rt Hon. Karen Bradley MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
1 Horse Guards Road
London SW1A 2HQ