Sunday, 13 January 2008

Get involved with 'Classroom Teacher'

Action and Change for Teachers
A group of teachers who backed Martin Powell-Davies’ recent stand in the NUT Vice-President election met on Saturday January 12th . The meeting discussed what needs to be done to build action to defend teachers’ pay, cut our relentless workload and to halt the break-up of local authority education.

A leadership we can rely on
One thing that still holds us back is the lack of a fighting union leadership that teachers can rely on to build the united action we need. Martin’s campaign helped keep up the pressure on the NUT Executive to call the promised national ballot for strike action on pay. We hope that the Executive will vote to get the ballot under way when they meet at the end of January. By then the Government should finally have announced the miserly salary awards that they expect us to put up with for 2008-2010.

Building support for classroom teachers
Most teachers, struggling with the daily grind in schools, will know nothing about the debates at the top of the Union. But they know they need support in standing up to the demands of bullying managers and the pressures of observations, league tables and performance management. Hard-pressed school reps know they need support in organising their school group and explaining union campaigns in a way that grabs classroom teachers’ attention.
Many hard-pressed Union Secretaries and officers will feel the same way. Too often left on their own to try and build school-by-school action in isolation, ground down by a rising mountain of individual casework, they also need support in building strong local Associations that can defend teachers and also to help bring in new members, especially young teachers, into activity.
It’s this vital task, of helping to develop a strong network of classroom teachers, school reps and campaigning union officers that the meeting agreed had to be our first priority.

A campaigning newsletter
We agreed to build our network by launching a new campaigning newsletter, “Classroom Teacher”, to circulate to schools, both by e-mail and as printed copies that teachers can distribute to their colleagues. It will focus primarily on the main pay and conditions issues facing classroom teachers and the campaigns we can build to defend ourselves.
The newsletter plans to be sharp and snappy, written by, and for, classroom teachers, reflecting the daily pressures we are under but also building confidence that together we can take action to turn the tide. We plan to put names to the articles reflecting the range of teachers involved in the network. At the same time, we hope to have room to include some more detailed commentary for teachers who also want to read something a bit more analytical about the problems we face. We also want to invite teachers to send in their own articles and comments and to be a real part of a growing network.
We hope that the newsletter can develop in to a larger bulletin – which will mean appealing for finances too. It will certainly be regularly produced so that ‘Classroom Teacher’ will be there in staffrooms at least every half-term for teachers to read.

The ‘Classroom Teacher’ network
The newsletter will advertise an e-mail, blog and website which will allow teachers to get in touch with the campaign and also post their own comments on our blog. We also hope to got a Classroom Teacher account on youtube too.
We have also set up a classroom teacher e-group which will allow members of the network to easily contact each other and exchange views and information.
We hope that teachers will forward our newsletter to colleagues and develop its circulation. We want to make sure we know where it is being read, get feedback on what teachers have thought of it but, above all, get new teachers to join the network and write their own comments and articles.
Where there is support, we will also organise national or regional meetings around particular issues or campaigns so that we can bring teachers together and help plan a way forward. We can also produce material to be distributed at NUT Conference, although our main focus is going to be on classroom teachers rather than national NUT events.
We hope this initiative can help build a network of classroom teachers working together to defend our colleagues and to build a union ready and prepared to take action to change our pay, our workload, our union and our schools.

Martin Powell-Davies

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