After Ed Balls’ announcement last weekend that schools should expect £2 billion cuts, comes confirmation that a Conservative Government are planning even more draconian attacks on teachers and education.
The Guardian and TES report that Michael Gove’s draft Education Bill will include regulations that would allow a further acceleration in the break-up of Local Authority schooling. Under the Tories, private sponsors would find it even easier to set up Academies, supposedly to help ‘raise standards’ - despite clear evidence that many Academies are struggling compared to community comprehensive schools. While privatisation through Academies and Trusts has been largely restricted to secondary education under New Labour, a future Conservative Government would also encourage their rapid expansion into primary education as well.
The Tories’ plans are also set to include a stark threat to teachers and teacher unions – the end of our national pay and conditions arrangements. This would mean that even the weak protections in the existing School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document would be thrown aside. Faced with spending cuts, schools will seek to attack pay, introduce more ‘teaching-on-the-cheap’ and further worsen workload. Unions need to organise to defend – and improve – national pay and conditions by taking national action to win a clear National Contract limiting working hours and class sizes, a contract that should apply to all teachers.
Whoever wins the next General Election, teachers and education face some of the severest challenges we have faced for decades. That’s why it is vital that the NUT National Officer elections are won by candidates prepared to offer strong leadership that can galvanise members to take the national action necessary to meet the challenges that we face.