Sunday, 19 January 2014

News from the TES - in the absence of news from elsewhere

Another good reason to meet with LANAC on Feb 1st!
Teachers, of all people, should know that if you set ultimatums and then don't stick to them, you can find yourself in difficulties. 

The NUT and NASUWT both gave an ultimatum to Michael Gove that, if there was no progress in talks, then they would call further national strike action by February 13.

As an article* posted on the TES website explains, there has been no progress - indeed there have been no talks. As it also explains - although it doesn't need any 'leaks' to journalists to work it out, just a glance at a calendar - time is running very short to call a strike that will keep to the pre-announced deadline. 

It would be good if teachers could be reassured that their unions understand that teachers should stick to what they have threatened that they will do - but will they?

This latest delay in our campaign to defend pay, pensions, conditions and education means that the LANAC Conference in Leicester on Feb 1st is even more important. It will be the first chance to hear news from the next meeting of the NUT Executive - on January 30th - and to debate what now needs to be done. 

Let's hope that, by then, we have a further date for action that we can build for. However, LANAC has consistently argued that the decisions shouldn’t just be about the next action date but should also map out a calendar of action that can show both Michael Gove and our members that we have a serious strategy to defeat these attacks. Come along and join the discussion!  

There's also an excellent 'open letter to Tristram Hunt' in this week's TES from Dr. Dylan Murphy, a history teacher. Unlike some of the official announcements from teaching unions, Dylan is firm in his opposition to Hunt's "licence to lay blame" plans  - and draws on international evidence to explain why:
The full letter can be read on but here are some of the key points that it makes:

"Shamefully, you are lining up behind education secretary for England Michael Gove's agenda of blaming teachers for the problems of education and society more generally. The root causes of these problems lie in cuts, underfunding and poverty. As a historian you should know that there is a clear correlation between social deprivation and educational performance.

If you took the time to talk to teachers, you might realise that the real issue that needs to be addressed is not the myth of "underperformance" but the fact that huge numbers of excellent teachers are leaving the profession because of the impossible demands we face. Instead, you are joining the blame game. Under Mr Gove's performance-related pay legislation, the threat is that we won't be awarded a pay rise. Under Mr Hunt, the threat will be that we won't even keep our jobs.

Professor Diane Ravitch, a historian of education and former US assistant secretary of education, explained in a 2010 article for The Wall Street Journal why she was opposed to blaming teachers for the problems of America's education system: "The current emphasis on accountability has created a punitive atmosphere in the schools. The Obama administration seems to think that schools will improve if we fire teachers and close schools. They do not recognise that schools are often the anchor of their communities."

This is all in sharp contrast to Finland, which is widely recognised as having one of the best education systems in the world. Children there don't start formal education until they are 7 and education is free at all levels. There are no school rankings or inspections and students take only one standardised test when they are 16. Teachers are well-paid, respected individuals. There has been no privatisation and there is an emphasis on social equality that is sadly lacking in Britain with its mania for privatisation of public services".

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