Saturday 12 September 2009

SATS: We 'talk the talk' but will we 'walk the walk'?

The news from yesterday's NUT Executive will be a real disappointment to all of those teachers and parents who were hoping that they wouldn't have to inflict the pressure and drudgery of SATs on any more children.

Unfortunately, after news came that the NAHT had voted not to go forward with a formal ballot this term - but were only going to conduct a 'consultative exercise' for now - a majority (25 votes to 11) on the NUT Executive voted that the NUT also now couldn't carry out a full ballot this term. Instead, we will also carry out an indicative ballot, but I understand that no definite timescale was agreed.

This is a significant setback, I fear. By the time we come to Xmas, so many schools will already be so far on the road to booster classes, SATs preparation etc. that it will be much harder to convince members to vote for a boycott at that late stage.

The best way to have kept the pressure on the NAHT to join with us in action would have been for the NUT to have gone out and won a ballot to boycott SATs. While our campaigning must still be kept up, the boycott will now be much harder to win.

I am afraid that it is another example - as previously on pay - where the NUT Executive has shown that it hasn't thought through its strategy. The danger is that every time we march members up the hill and then back down again, teachers - and our opponents in Government - are left wondering whether the NUT is serious. In short, we 'talk the talk' but when do we 'walk the walk' ??

When Annual Conference voted for a boycott, urgent preparations should have been made straight away to prepare for the ballot and to convince members to vote for it. As I wrote in my nomination leaflet back in May, "The Union urgently needs to set out for primary staff a concrete course of action and a timetable for the ballot ... If we are serious about the boycott, then there is some urgent work to be done".

Conference delegates were serious about taking action to end SATs - just as they were about voting to take national action over workload. We need a Union leadership that can implement those decisions and develop a clear strategy that can win our demands - and give our members the confidence that we have a winning strategy too. Once again, that's why I want to add my voice to the Executive to help provide that leadership.

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