Sunday 30 December 2012

A plan of action for January

Tell your colleagues - tell the National Executive


MICHAEL GOVE has declared that he is on a ‘war footing’ to drive through his attack on teachers’ pay. We mustn’t let him succeed.

His attacks, leaving pay dependent on a manager’s view of a teachers’ ‘performance’, have nothing to do with improving education. Gove wants to cut salary costs to help his privatising friends and to try to cower and divide teachers so that we can be bullied and overworked even more than we are already.

Too many teachers already struggle to cope with relentless workload as we are expected  to somehow produce ever-improving results without the resources required to meet the growing needs of our pupils. Stress levels, resignations and demoralisation are rising. This is what teaching is already like in many schools before Gove tightens the screw even further. If he gets away with his plans, teaching will become a truly horrendous profession for too many.

But Gove’s plans can - and must - be beaten. If we organise effectively, and put in place a firm programme of national strike action, then we can force this Government to retreat.

Gove has declared 'war' on teaching unions because he knows our potential strength. When we take national action, thousands of schools are affected, working lives and the economy widely disrupted, trade union opposition to cuts demonstrated in every community. Just as we found when we struck over pensions in 2011, action can win wide public support, especially  if we go out and explain how Gove’s plans are wrecking education.

We must respond firmly and quickly to Gove’s attack.  As a start, we have to build the strongest possible support for a first day of national action as soon as possible this term.

That means talking to colleagues in your school and in other local schools, holding meetings to explain why we have to act.

It also means calling and emailing your National Officers and National Executive members, so that they know that you are ready and willing to take action.

This is no time for teaching unions to hesitate or retreat. We mustn’t repeat the delays of last year, when further pensions action was postponed - giving Gove the chance to step up his attacks. Regrettably, the NASUWT may not be prepared to call a national strike - so the NUT may have to initiate action without them, as happened over pensions. The NUT can’t delay, it’s time to act.


Tell schools

Local NUT Associations should make immediate plans to get out emails, newsletters and, above all, to call school meetings to discuss Gove's threats and explain why we need to take national action. But take your own initiatives too. Forward 'Classroom Teacher' to your friends and colleagues

Tell the public

Some school groups have already held school gate protests and sent photos to the local press. Some London NUT Associations are planning a day of leafleting and lunchtime protests on Wednesday 23 January followed by a protest outside NUT HQ at 5pm to show the support for action. What can you do? Feel free to copy and distribute the 'message to parents' in the latest Classroom Teacher

Tell your union

Make sure you attend local meetings and regional rallies to encourage your Union to call national strike action. Send in messages in support of action to NUT HQ and call and email your NUT Executive members to ask them to vote for national action when the NUT Executive next meets on Thursday January 24.

Thursday 20 December 2012

NUT uncovers suspicious web of Academy advisers

NUT raises concerns about DfE education adviser contracts and potential conflicts of interests

The NUT released a press release today stating that the Union believes there is evidence that a number of individuals who have been employed by the Department for Education (DfE) as a contracted Education Adviser to work as academy brokers or on other activities related to the academies and free schools programme may have conflicts of interests arising from other employment as Ofsted inspectors, links to academy chains or sponsors or because of other DfE contracts and activities to which they are connected.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“It is quite unacceptable that a number of people are making a lot of money out of work within the Department for Education that is solely driven by the Government’s obsession with turning more and more schools into academies.

“Contractors such as these Education Advisers are being paid for work that includes cajoling schools into academy status, ensuring that they accept a particular academy sponsor or related activities supporting the delivery of the Government’s academy and free school programme.

“In some cases these individuals have connections to the schools’ inspectorate Ofsted or to academy chains that give rise to serious concern about their impartiality and objectivity. Contracts such as these represent a deterioration of the public service ethos in the administration of Government policy. Instead of professional civil servants, Government departments, and the Education Department in particular, are increasingly relying on hired hands to deliver their policies. These contractors lack the accountability set down in civil service codes and make their money from accumulating contracts for a variety of paid services, be it school inspection, academy sponsorship or consultancy work. There is a lack of oversight and insufficient regard given to where these functions may conflict. Michael Gove has fundamentally failed to oversee where there might be a conflict of interest. This is a very dangerous direction for a Government to be going.

“It is simply wrong that hard working school leaders, teachers and governors who support schools in a voluntary capacity are being bullied and cajoled into turning their schools into academies and stigmatised with the label that they are ‘failing’ when in practice the values and judgements of the people making these decisions have motives which are suspect to say the least.

“Once public services are run for profit the user is inevitably put second and we lose entirely the public service ethos. It has to be remembered this is tax payer’s money and should be spent for the public good not be squandered on a whole range of private consultants being brought in to run functions which should be provided by the DfE.

“Michael Gove should terminate these contracts, call a halt to the forced academy programme and return to the Department for Education its function of supporting all schools, whatever their status. We also need to see a return to the Education Department being run by professional civil servants, not cowboy operators out to make a fast buck.”

Also see:

Wednesday 19 December 2012

A history lesson for Mr Gove

" Paying teachers by results is like 'paying physicians only for the patients they have cured'. Society would never adopt this policy for its physicians so why should it for its teachers ? " 

'Payment by results' failed education in 1862, but Gove wants to try again 150 years later - and he thinks our kids need to learn more British history ?

Monday 17 December 2012

Gove has declared 'war' - time to repel his attack on education!

Last week, the NUT National Executive met to respond to the declaration of 'war' on teachers by Michael Gove and the Review Body following their threats to link teachers' pay entirely to performance. 

Regrettably, the NUT Executive has not yet  shown the boldness and determination required in the face of such a serious attack. Instead, as a Union we have perhaps been rightly criticised for showing once again what one columnist has called " tactical conservatism".

NUT members have all been sent an email rightly explaining that already "NUT members have told us how strongly they oppose Michael Gove's plans. An immediate NUT survey of 10,000 members showed that well over 90 percent reject Mr Gove's plans for pay determination at school level".

That strength of feeling - backed up by the many angry comments I have received from teachers and posted elsewhere on this blog - - just wasn't matched by the same strength of resolve at the Executive. The email simply goes on to say that "NUT members may have to go further in demonstrating their opposition to this Government's plans ... and should prepare for possible strike action next term". A far bolder 'call-to-arms' needs to be made.

A national NUT circular issued today spells out exactly what was - and wasn't - agreed at the Executive meeting. I have pasted the various points in full below.

As I said in the debate at the Executive, those of us calling for a calendar of strike action have also always been strong supporters of the Union going out to members - and the wider community - to explain our case and build support. So the recommendations made by the NUT National Officers about a 'community-facing campaign for education' were not an issue.

However, we know that it will be the strength of union action that will be the decisive factor in defeating Gove's 'war' on teachers. It was only our 'objection' which sought to commit the union to commencing action with the urgency that these attacks require.

The defeat of that objection was a setback - but means that there is now an even greater urgency to go out to schools and to explain to members how the Review Body proposals threaten the pay and conditions of every teacher. It also means that there is an even greater need for NUT and NASUWT members to make their voices heard and give confidence to their national leaderships to call national strike action.

As I posted in my original report , there are bound to be differences over strategy when deciding under pressure how best to force back your opponent.

However, for some who opposed our objection, this debate was not just about the timing of the start of action. I fear that the final recommendation 3, "to develop new action instructions in combination with NASUWT relating to school pay policies" reveals the real, and dangerously defeatist, thinking of some on the Executive.

Limiting our strategy to perhaps just a token protest strike followed by an attempt to plead with schools to ignore Gove's new pay flexibilities would be fatal. Bullied by Ofsted and budget cuts, even the best of schools will be under pressure to limit pay progression for their staff. Many will seize on the chance to cut pay and ratchet up the pressure on staff even more. It is a strategy that will see the Union drowning in pay appeals, grievances and individual casework. Instead, we need to channel the rising anger and bitterness that teachers already feel about the way they are being treated into collective national action.

The defeat of the proposal to look at strike action in the first half-term means that valuable time has already been lost in organising the action we need. I am confident that this action can - and must - still be built - but only if we also go on a ‘war footing’.

Every Local NUT Association needs to get to work as soon as they can. In my Association, Lewisham, I have convened an emergency Committee meeting at the beginning of next term - with a wider invitation to school reps to come along too.

We'll be looking to draft in support to run the office and support with casework so that we can put together a programme of visits to schools and calls to reps. We'll be explaining how bad Gove's proposals will be for teachers and education - but also asking members to send in demands to the National Union for national strike action to be called as well. The proposals include calling a Lobby of the NUT Executive, after work on Wednesday 23rd January at 5pm.

Lewisham NUT will also be attending the next LANAC Steering Committee, 11am - 3pm, on Saturday 19th January 2013, at the Coventry Transport Museum CV1 1JD, to discuss how we can build that pressure on executive members in every Region.
PLEASE NOTE, as a London NUT Reps Briefing has now been called for that date,  LANAC Officers are liaising about whether arrangements will be altered - look out for further details.
Here is the record of the votes recorded in today's NUT circular:

A division was called during the debate on the Urgency report from the Officers’ meeting, held earlier on 13 December 2012. The report contained the Union’s response to the Government’s acceptance of the STRB recommendations.

The recommendations set out in the report were as follows:

Building a community-facing campaign for education:

1. Continuing to build the petition and gathering further sponsoring organisations (such as NGA) and to examine possibilities for high profile national meetings.
2. Parents meetings in schools over Ebacc demanding real consultation - in at least each region. With publicity plans and the possibilities of further meetings in more towns and cities.
3. Meetings on education - using the models of the Yorkshire Education Conference and the Lambeth primary conference. Again aiming to have these in each region - focusing either on school improvement/evidence on academies or on ‘trusting teachers’.
4. Examine similar possibilities for alliance working on school accountability including OFSTED and ESTYN, phonics and curriculum review.
5. Produce leaflets for use in building community campaigns on education.
6. Condemn and campaign against the impact of cuts to education services and associated services including for example the early intervention grant.

Building the campaign and joint union activity around pay

1. GS/DGS to give a series of national reps briefings. 

2. GS/DGs to run a series of regional rallies - putting forward the case against Government education policy and for industrial action.
3. Develop new action instructions in combination with NASUWT relating to school pay policies.
4. Encourage school groups to hold protests outside school gates and seeking local press coverage.
5. Seek media attention for stories about teacher morale and resignations.
6. Produce material for members around the pay freeze, the increased pension contributions and limitations on teacher pay progression.
7. Conduct surveys amongst early career members about the impact on their household budgets of the above.
8. Approach the NASUWT nationally early in January about the necessity for strike action in the Spring Term.
9. Build towards strike action in the Spring Term over both pay and pensions issues.

An objection to the report in the name of Martin Powell-Davies and Heather McKenzie was received as follows:

Replace existing points 8 and 9 with:
8. Instruct our negotiating team to urgently approach the NASUWT to seek their agreement for both unions to give notice for a first day of strike action to take place no later than the first week of February 2013.
9. Call a special meeting of the Executive on January 10 2013 to agree on the date that would be called for a first day of national strike action and to consider further dates that could form part of our calendar of action.

The vote was recorded as follows:

For: Marilyn Bater, Roy Bowser, Nick Grant, Dave Harvey, Mandy Hudson, Roger King, Ian Leaver, Anne Lemon, Julie Lyon-Taylor, Heather McKenzie, Patrick Murphy, Martin Powell-Davies and Annette Pryce. (13)

Against: Marilyn Harrop, Jay Barry, Dave Brinson, Dominic Byrne, Hazel Danson, Beth Davies, Neil Foden, Jerry Glazier, Linda Goodwin, Ian Grayson, Robin Head, John Holmes, Max Hyde, Angela Jardine, Simon Jones, Clare Jones, Gawain Little, Amanda Martin, Ian Murch, John Pemberthy, Veronica Peppiatt, Eddie Ritson, Ken Rustidge, Alan Rutter, Anne Swift, Tony Tonks, Graham White and Nick Wigmore (28)

Abstentions: Alex Kenny

Absent: Barrie Frost and Betty Joseph.   
The objection was, therefore, LOST.

Sunday 16 December 2012

A brave teacher

"This is Victoria. She died a hero today. She hid her first graders in the cabinets and closets after hearing the gunfire. When the shooter came to her classroom, she told him that her students were in the gym. He then gunned her down and moved on. She saved the lives of all of her students. Please pass this on if you see it. She deserves to be remembered for her bravery."

Perhaps, just for a moment, the politicians will stop trashing teachers.

Saturday 15 December 2012

LANAC Steering Committee in January to discuss how to build fightback against Gove's 'war' on teachers

Over 50 delegates and visitors from NUT Associations right across England gathered in Leicester on December 8th for the second conference of the Local Associations National Action Campaign (LANAC).

LANAC was created following two packed fringe meetings at NUT Conference in Torquay this Easter called by delegates angered by the continued failure of the Union to call further national strike action over the attacks on teachers’ pensions.

This latest LANAC conference was held just after Michael Gove had also confirmed his ‘war’ on teachers’ pay. Teachers wanted to meet up even at this late stage of a long autumn term because we all understood that teaching unions needed to urgently respond by calling national strike action to repel these latest attacks.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of supporters of LANAC, the NUT National Executive meeting held just a few days later failed to commit to action early next term. This dangerous hesitation at the top of the Union makes clear just how important a role LANAC is going to have to play in organising from below to make sure Gove does not succeed in inflicting a major defeat on teachers - with all the long-lasting damage that could also inflict on children’s education.

The NUT Executive’s hesitancy also gives the next LANAC Steering Committee on Saturday January 19 in Coventry an added significance.
It is planned to be held from 11am - 3pm, Saturday JANUARY 19th 2013, at the Coventry Transport Museum CV1 1JD
PLEASE NOTE, as a London NUT Reps Briefing has now been called for that date,  LANAC Officers are liaising about whether arrangements will be altered - look out for further details

LANAC’s policies and campaigns are democratically decided. Every NUT Association who supports LANAC’s aims, and affiliates to the campaign, is entitled to send a voting delegate to that Steering Committee meeting to take part in our urgent debate as to how LANAC can organise to make sure the teaching unions mobilise to defeat Gove’s attacks.

If you are not sure whether your Association is affiliated, please get in touch.

Below, is a report summarising the discussions on December 8th:

The first session of the LANAC Conference, reviewing the lessons of this term’s ‘Phase One’ action, was opened by Julie Lyon-Taylor from Liverpool NUT and an NUT National Officer.

Pride of place was given to Steve Charles, NUT rep at Stratford Academy in Newham where, following nine days of strike action, management were forced to reverse their disgraceful docking of 15% from the pay of teachers taking part in the national action-short-of-strike action campaign. This success is the best answer to Gove’s latest attempts to order more schools to use the same provocative tactics to undermine trade union organisation.

That wasn’t the only victory gained at Stratford. Steve explained how, before the action, management had been making unannounced classroom visits to lessons every day, demanding that all teachers kept detailed lesson plans written in an unhelpful imposed school format and faced disciplinary action if they were found wanting. Those visits have now stopped.

The action at Stratford also has other vital lessons that any waverers on the NUT Executive need to consider. Firstly, teachers’ anger at their treatment meant that, with a clear lead from Steve as rep, a fairly inactive union group was galvanised into determined action. Secondly, far from attacking the strikers as Gove and co. might assume, parents instead turned on the school management and helped force the headteacher into retreat. There is no reason why the same determination and support can’t be built on a national scale.

Two other school reps, Karen Wheeler from Deptford Green in Lewisham and Tom Carlyle from Bishop Challoner in Tower Hamlets also reported on victories won in their schools over observations and ‘mocksteds’ after teachers threatened escalation to strike action.

Other contributions and reports from Nottingham, Croydon, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wakefield, Hackney, Hull, Lewisham, Southwark and Lewes/Eastbourne/Wealden pointed out how the ‘Phase One’ action had helped build union organisation and rank-and-file confidence but, at the same time, was not enough on its own to turn the tide on Gove.

Many reps described important local successes but also reported that the ‘Phase One’ action was inevitably ‘patchy’, with some school groups lacking in confidence to take school-based action alone. While maintaining and extending the ‘Phase One’ action, what was urgently needed was to now urgently move to ‘Phase Two’ and call national strike action.

As Mick Wale, NUT Divisional Secretary from Hull, put it “we are winning individual battles but we need to win the war”. Pointing out the harsh reality facing teachers, Mick explained how he had just taken eight calls in his NUT Office in one week from teachers asking for help in being released from their contracts as they couldn’t take the unending stress and workload of teaching any longer.

Two NUT Executive members introduced the afternoon sessions with presentations updating delegates on the latest threats (see for copies to download and use). Patrick Murphy from Leeds outlined the threats to union facility time and organisation and how the NUT needed to organise to meet those challenges. Martin Powell-Davies from London explained exactly how severe the attacks on pay structure contained in the Review Body report could be for every teacher, on top of the continued attacks on pensions.

That was followed by one of the highlights of the day, a live Skype link-up from Chicago with two members of CORE, the Caucus Of Rank-and-File Educators, explaining how they had helped rebuild the strength of the Chicago Teachers Union. By winning the support of both their members and of much of the public to determined action, they had won significant contractual gains after five days of strike action across the city. (again see for an edited video of the link-up).

The final plenary session, introduced by Debs Gwynn from St.Helens, focussed on the need to build escalating national strike action to defeat the attacks on pay and pensions – and to try and co-ordinate more generalised strike action with other trade unions as well.

All the contributions to the discussion, including from delegates from Coventry, Sandwell, Lambeth, Lewisham, Birmingham, Cheshire West and Chester, West Sussex, Leicester and Warwickshire, all agreed that an urgent programme of national strike action was vital. Many also stressed how we must explain to the public how these attacks are part of a wider government strategy to cut and privatise public services and narrow the curriculum.

There were also calls to support battles against academisation at Connaught school in Waltham Forest and at Sinfin Community School in Derbyshire, where NUT members will be on strike in the last week of term (messages of support to

There was some debate as to how LANAC should relate to other groupings within the NUT, particularly the broader ‘Campaign Teacher’ initiative. Continuing the debate at the June conference, some delegates again proposed we should hold joint meetings, others that we should appeal to those supporting Campaign Teacher to come together around LANAC . It was agreed that this should be considered again at the next Steering Committee in January.

‘Unity is strength’ has always been an old adage of the movement. However, LANAC has a clear democratic structure and statement of aims, debated and agreed at our founding conference in June. For example, LANAC stands clearly as a campaign “working at every level of the NUT for the earliest possible return to collective industrial action … and for a calendar of action that can secure further concessions from this weakened Government”.

The policy of ‘Campaign Teacher’ is far less clear. The NUT Executive members present had to point out to the LANAC Conference that they could not be at all sure whether some of the other NUT Executive colleagues backing ‘Campaign Teacher’ would be voting to support an urgent call for action. Regrettably, those warnings proved to be correct.

In the light of the Executive’s failure to confirm national strike action in the first half of next term, the January 19th LANAC Steering Committee in Coventry will need to consider what meetings LANAC organises, either with or without other groupings in the Union, both up to and at the 2013 NUT Annual Conference in Liverpool. We also agreed to consider preferred prioritisation of motions going to that Annual Conference.

However, the key work of LANAC will continue to be to lobby and organise at all levels of the NUT for national strike action. Our main agenda item on January 19th will obviously be to discuss how we can urgently mobilise to oppose Gove’s attacks - and how we can lobby NUT Executive members to persuade them to launch the escalating campaign of national action called for by LANAC.

If the NUT Executive can’t act boldly to give confidence to its members to fight, then NUT members will need to act boldly to give confidence to its Executive.

Thursday 13 December 2012

NUT Executive calls for action on pay - but no firm strike plans agreed

Today's meeting of the NUT National Executive met to discuss how we respond to Michael Gove's threats to make all teachers' pay rates dependent on performance.

From the beginning of our dispute over Teachers’ Pay and Working Conditions - with our ballot results clearly supporting both strike action and non-strike action - we knew that the School Teacher’s Review Body was likely to worsen arrangements for teachers’ pay. That's why this term's campaign to get the best possible appraisal and observation policies in place has been so important - because, it's now clear that, from next September, Gove wants those often harsh and arbitrary 'performance' gradings to be used to limit teachers' pay.

Now we know that, not only has Michael Gove and the Review Body failed to address our demand that there should not be “any further restriction on increases in the pay of school teachers”, he has accepted a series of proposals that threaten the pay progression and pay levels of every teacher. In fact, he has threatened 'war' on teachers in a clear attempt to take on, and undermine, the teaching unions in order to push through cuts and privatisation. 

Given the seriousness of these attacks, and the damage that they will inflict on education, I argued strongly that the Executive had a responsibility to organise an urgent and significant campaign of publicity and action to defeat these proposals. The campaign would require a careful explanation of these threats to both our members and the public. However, we could be confident that we will generate strong support for the Union’s clear case against the injustice and division caused by performance pay and in defence of national pay scales.

Today’s Executive agreed that we had to oppose Gove’s attacks on pay, backed up by a survey of NUT members that already showed an overwhelming rejection of his proposals.

We agreed to hold protests, meetings and rallies to build the campaign against these attacks. But, although we agreed to continue to talk with the NASUWT about the need for strike action next term, no firm plans were suggested and, for now, we are still just ‘building towards’ that action. I think that this lack of urgency was a mistake and, unless corrected quickly, it could be a very serious one.

When you’re being attacked and having to decide under pressure how best to force back your opponent, then there are bound to be disagreements about the best strategy to employ. There were certainly some clear differences of opinion voiced in the debate about how to respond to Gove’s attacks.

A majority on the Executive were wary about committing to calling strike action at this stage, arguing that we shouldn’t rush into a ‘knee-jerk’ response. It was argued that, if we couldn’t yet be sure of members’ views, we shouldn’t be provoked by Gove into hasty action.

I argued that we needed to have a much greater sense of urgency and needed to call on the NASUWT to work with us in calling action in the first half-term after Christmas. After all, we have a live ballot that can sanction strike action and our survey results didn’t only show opposition to Gove - they also showed overwhelming support for strike action too.

My proposal, seconded by Heather McKenzie from Hertfordshire, called on the Executive to go beyond just ‘building towards strike action in the Spring Term’ but to:

* instruct our negotiating team to urgently approach the NASUWT to seek their agreement for both unions to give notice for a first day of national strike action to take place no later than the first week of February 2013.

* call a special meeting of the Executive on January 10 2013 to agree on the date that will be called for a first day of national strike action and to consider further dates that could form part of our calendar of action.

In proposing, I made clear that, yes, we needed to go out and explain our case to the public, but that we should be confident that, in a choice between Gove and teachers, most of the public will back our campaign. I agreed that, yes, we had to go all out to visit schools and hold rallies to build support for action. But, I argued, timing was critical.

We need time to go out and explain our case, but we haven’t got unlimited time. Gove wants to complete initial consultation by January 5th (!) and then rush through legislative changes to impose these changes in time for September. If we wait too long, members will lose heart and think that, together with pensions, this is a ‘done deal’ that unions cannot defeat.

But there’s no reason to delay or to lack confidence in our ability to defeat these proposals. There is already seething anger against these attacks. From their own experience of bullying, targets and observations, teachers know only too well how Gove’s plans will demoralise and divide schools. If we simply retreat to fight localised battles to try and win acceptable pay policies school-by-school, as some seemed to be suggesting, then we will leave most teachers isolated and bullied and union reps drowning in pay appeals and grievances.

Under perhaps Gove’s most unpopular proposal, those teachers who are bullied out of their posts will now probably find that they have to accept a substantial pay cut to get a new job.

Of course, our battle will be easier to fight if we have others unions as allies. The PCS will be hoping to co-ordinate national action nearer Easter but we need to get our action underway before then. Joint strike action alongside the NASUWT will certainly strengthen our campaign – but are the NASUWT leadership prepared to call action before it is too late?

While some argued that we were rashly writing-off the NASUWT, what we were actually proposing was simply that we concretely approach the NASUWT with the suggestion of action next half-term and then return to an emergency NUT National Executive to discuss if there was a real prospect of joint action. If not, then we would then have to decide whether we called action alone this side of the half-term break. We could also then have continued the urgent discussion of what programme of action should follow an initial day’s strike.

Regrettably, after debate, my proposal was lost by 28 votes to 13*. 

Many NUT members will be disappointed and angered that no firmer plans have yet been set. School groups and Local Associations will now need to urgently step up the pressure so that the next meeting of the NUT National Executive on January 24th can be in no doubt about the demands from teachers for a firm programme of strike action. The Local Associations National Action Campaign will need to play an important role in co-ordinating that grass-roots campaign.

Gove’s attacks can – and must – be defeated. If union Executives can’t act to give confidence to their members to fight, then union members will need to act to give confidence to their Executives – both in the NUT and NASUWT.

* The 13 votes in favour were: Bater, Bowser, Grant, Harvey, Hudson, King, Leaver, Lemon, Lyon-Taylor, McKenzie, Murphy, Powell-Davies and Pryce with Alex Kenny abstaining and Joseph and Frost absent from the meeting.

Support our campaign to defend education

A firm campaign is vital to defend teachers from bullying attacks on their pay, morale and workload - but it is also vital to defend education. Performance pay will damage education, dividing and bullying staff and enforcing even more 'teaching to the test'.

But this isn't the only attack from Gove that we are opposing. These are some of the other campaigns that the National Executive discussed ( see further information on NUT website ):

Give Every Child a Chance - Don’t rush to the English Baccalaureate – NUT/NAHT joint campaign

To sign our joint petition go to The campaign petition was launched on Friday 7 December with NAHT colleagues. It is also supported by the Musicians' Union and Equity and key political and academic figures.

GCSE grading case at the High Court

On Tuesday 11 December the NUT joined head teachers, councils and members of the other leading teaching unions outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, for the start of the judicial review of the decisions of exam boards AQA and Edexcel and the exam regulator Ofqual. An outcome is expected next week.

Watering down of School Premises Regulations

A significant deregulation of protection for teachers’ working conditions - and pupils' learning conditions - took place at the end of October 2012.  

This is of particular concern in London, where these changes will aid Mayor Boris Johnson's plans to solve the pupil place shortage by opening privatised 'free schools' in unsuitable premises.

The changes include:
  • Removal of the regulation specifying that staff toilets must be separate from pupil toilets.
  • No requirement for a room in which staff can gather ‘for work and social purposes’. 
  • No minimum ratios of toilets to pupils based on age. 
  • Removal of minimum temperature requirements for classrooms (18°C), sick rooms (21°C) and gymnasia (15°C).  
  • UPDATE: It is also worth noting that academies and free schools are not covered by the new School Premises (England) Regulations 2012.  This was due to change in January 2013, but as of December 2012, there has been no DfE announcement.  Currently, academies are covered by the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations) 2003, which, on the subject of toilet provision, state only that there must be “sufficient washrooms for staff and pupils, including facilities for pupils with special needs, taking account of the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999”, which, of course, are no longer in force.

"Arrest Michael Gove for bullying!"

The Artist Taxi Driver says it as only he can ...

apologies for the swearing ...

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Solidarity with the General Strike in Tunisia

UPDATE: The last-minute decision by the UGTT leadership to call off the strike has provoked anger and indignation.

See the following links:

The rising tide of opposition to the attempts to steal back the gains of the revolution in Egypt have hit the headlines recently - but the same processes are also unfolding in Tunisia.

Tomorrow, Thursday 13 December, the UGTT (General Union of Tunisian Labour), has called a nationwide general strike, confronting the new regime of the 'Troika' government, led by the right-wing religious party, Ennahda.

This follows a victory in Siliana (South-West of Tunis), where a five-day general strike forced the government to agree to the removal of the local governor. At the same time, national negotiations between the employers’ federation UTICA and the unions have resulted in the bosses conceding a wage increase of 6% in the private sector. These events have helped build workers' confidence against a coalition government more divided than ever, and whose support is declining dramatically - but, like a wounded animal, is also lashing out against opposition. The general strike was called after a rally held by trade unionists in Tunis, in commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Ferhat Hached, the founder of the UGTT, was attacked by Ennahda militias.

I have received the following reply to a personal message of support that I sent to a Tunisian teachers' union leader:

Merci, très touché par votre lettre de soutien et de solidarité.La lutte continue pour instaurer une vraie démocratie: une démocratie où tout a le droit à vivre dignement, a jouir de sa liberté, une démocratie où il n'y aura plus d'exploitation ni de discrimination. La lutte continue pour que les valeurs de la révolution prédominent.

Un peuple uni vaincra. Vive la révolution.

Thank you. I am very touched by your letter of support and solidarity. Our struggle to establish a true democracy continues: a democracy where everyone has the right to live with dignity, enjoying their freedom, a democracy where there will be no more exploitation nor discrimination. The struggle continues so that the original aims ​​of the revolution can be won.

A united people will win. Long live the revolution.

I was also able to send the following response after asking this morning's meeting of the SERTUC Public Services Commitee if i could send a message on the Commitee's behalf in support of Tunisian colleagues:

Cher Mohamed

J'apporte aussi un message soutien du Public Services Committee of the Southern and Eastern Region Committee of the Trades Union Congress (SERTUC) qui representent tous les syndicats publics du sud-est d'Angleterre. Nous avons vote ce matin a Londres pour envoyer ce message de solidarite pour votre greve generale demain.

Travailleurs - et profs - du monde, unissons-nous !

I also bring a message of support from the Public Services Committee of the Southern and Eastern Region Committee of the Trades Union Congress (SERTUC), representing public-sector unions across South-East England. We voted this morning, at our meeting in London, to send this message of solidarity for your general strike tomorrow.

Workers - and teachers - of the world, unite!

Martin Powell-Davies Chair of the SERTUC Public Services Committee (and member of NUT Executive )

For further information, see the artciles on the CWI website

Tuesday 11 December 2012

More teachers speak out on Gove's 'war' on teachers' pay

Lewisham NUT reps have continued to send in messages expressing strong support for strike action against Gove's performance pay proposals - and comments that explain why they think these attacks must be firmly opposed:

"If we don't resist these attacks, we can kiss goodbye to any hope of ever improving workload and conditions and, more chillingly, of having a strong fighting workforce as the level of fear and intimidation will rise to unthinkably scarier heights" 

"I think we need to show robust opposition to the government's proposals and I think this must take the form of strike action. We need to act urgently and set a date for January 2013. The reason the government feel confident to make these proposals is because we have never set another date for action over the pensions. Unless we stand up to them now they'll win on this too!"

"I think all of us know that the likelihood of pay being apportioned "fairly" (in the eyes of whom?) is not going to happen. Heads will use this as a licence to cut their outgoings and there is going to be plenty of manipulation of data to prove that "your value added is not acceptable".
        I have on several occasions seen the management use data to prove that "the progress of 'your' classes is not good enough" and on drilling down into the data seen that the statement has little evidence to support it.
That is the kind of picking and choosing that will go on, but this time it will have a direct impact on teacher's livelihoods.
       Management by extrinsic motivators is poor management for professionals. The idea that this will retain the best whilst getting rid of the "chaff" (as Thatcher would have it) is nonsense. Anyone who can go and do something else will be inspired to find employment elsewhere, whilst this unhinged government continue to destroy state education. I am not sure that state education will ever recover from the destruction wreaked on it by this government".

"These procedures will increase stress related illnesses/absences and increase the possibilities of capability procedures ... not related to weak or inadequate teachers but more likely affecting conscientious and committed teachers".

"We've just held our Union meeting to canvas opinion on strike action over performance related pay. We have had 19 out of 23 members affirming their support for strike action. However, members would like to be reassured that other unions (namely NASWUT as it has quite a few members here) will be on board with the action, too". 

"By all means ask the NASUWT to join us but do not make the decision dependent on waiting for the NASUWT to make a decision. If we show a confident determined lead on going for national strike action, other unions will follow".

"I can't believe that everything we fought for over the years to establish a fair and transparent pay structure - and UPS to keep experienced teachers in the classroom - could just be swept aside by a '5 minute wonder' who is so detached from reality! I believe that education should be removed from politics and managed by a board of educationalists (ex teachers) voted in for a set number of years (maybe 10?) with a guaranteed budget whoever is in power. We have just become a 'football' to be kicked around by whatever 'bully' is in charge. Teachers will leave in droves!!"

"Outraged by the proposals. No pay rise for 4 years and now this, while cost of living has moved relentlessly up. Teachers work in a co-operative endeavour with colleagues, students and homes. A climate of competition, secrecy and suspicion is no way to provide students with good role models or an effective education. I feel at times as if I am living in Russia or East Germany, not a modern open society".

"This is bullying tactics. I cannot think of any other profession which treats their most experienced staff in this disdainful and egregious manner. Teachers will become even more demoralised. Under the new proposals, good teachers will leave and only the most desperate and mediocre remain". 

For further comments, see earlier post here: