All of the key issues in our dispute remain unresolved – and, if we show weakness, then Gove and Wilshaw have made very clear that worse is yet to come. Workload is already unbearable but Wilshaw is again talking about the need to extend school days. Gove and the STRB (see earlier blogposts) has announced that 2014 will be the last year when national pay scales will be published by the DfE. So, from 2015, teachers face a complete performance pay free-for-all – with all the division, bullying and discrimination that inevitably goes with it – unless we stand firm and force politicians to retreat.
Ministers continue to refuse to talk with unions about anything apart from 'implementation' of their policies. There may be some additional guidance issued on some details of workload and pay implementation but certainly nothing that challenges the Government's divisive agenda. Gove's acceptance of the STRB's latest recommendations make crystal clear what his real intentions are.
Of course, there may be doubts and uncertainties in some schools. July 10 is near the end of a long, hard school year. The lack of a clear calendar of strike action has raised questions – a mistake that must not be repeated next term. However, we can - and must - go into this strike with confidence and determination. We should be taking action alongside support staff and other colleagues in a day that will really hit the headlines. Significantly, unions like UNISON and UNITE are already talking about announcing further strike dates in the autumn.
Support staff and teachers striking together will have a real impact on schools. Let’s work to make that impact as great as we can – for the sake of education. Can we throw in the towel like some other teaching unions appear to be doing? Of course not. Gove and his cronies are ever-more exposed by their actions. Even the STRB has had to admit that teacher shortages and turnover are becoming a real problem. Now, in the months leading up to a General Election, is the time when politicians are most susceptible to pressure.
Plans are already being made for picket-lines, rallies and demonstrations on the strike day. For example, Trafalgar Square has been booked for the Central London rally. Now Local Associations, school reps and colleagues need to go all-out to get the biggest turnout possible on July 10.
Talk to your colleagues, call a joint meeting, ask for advice if you need it from your Union. Get our message to parents with leaflets at school gates and letters home where you can. Above all, build the strike and let’s show Gove that the NUT is standing firm in defence of teachers and education.