Teachers’ union leader ridicules £8 million government scheme to put King’s portrait in schools

“What your school needs is a picture of King Charles printed on 'high quality' paper."

King Charles

Schools have now been invited to apply for a portrait of King Charles III, in a government scheme which has stoked criticism given its £8 million price tag to the taxpayer.

The plan received backlash when it was first announced in April and the price was revealed, at a time when public services faced the squeeze from disastrous spending cuts and public sector workers were engaged in ongoing strike action for fair pay and conditions.

Councils, courts, police forces and fire and rescue services are also included in the King’s portrait scheme, launched to “celebrate his new reign”.

The A3 portrait of King Charles III will be printed on ‘high quality paper’ and mounted in a ‘FSC certified oak’ frame, with schools invited by the Department of Education on Tuesday to request a ‘free’ copy, to be delivered next Spring.

With schools facing the recent aftermath of the RAAC concrete crisis that revealed the extent of the UK’s crumbling building disaster, and with the government accused of using a ‘sticking plaster approach’ in its response by the UK spending watchdog, it’s understandable that not everyone is impressed with this use of taxpayer money on public services.

Not only that but the campaign for fair pay and conditions for teachers has not ended entirely. Despite striking workers accepting a 6.5% pay rise in July (having seen their pay cut by 23% since 2010) following a lengthy and bitter dispute in schools, the union NASUWT is continuing its campaign with action short of a strike, encouraging members to refuse to take part in unnecessary tasks at work, such as mock inspections, as schools and workloads continue to suffer from disastrous spending cuts.

In a cutting response to the invite, General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), Daniel Kebede, highlighted one school of thought towards the scheme.

Kebede wrote on X: “Out of glue sticks? Leaky roof? Damp entering through that cracked window frame?

“What your school needs is a picture of King Charles printed on ‘high quality’ paper.”

This sentiment was echoed by other X users, who pointed out numerous other ways schools could have benefited from the millions of pounds.

Gamer School wrote on X: “I was at a school today that could of done with that 8 million and it would of transformed lives. Insane.”

Whilst another teacher wrote: “If we don’t get the portrait can the school have a credit for its cost?!? 8 million – how many TA’s would that pay for.”

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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