Monday 10 December 2012

Teachers give their views on Gove’s ‘war’ on pay

School union reps have been sending in their views in response to the news of Gove’s outrageous attacks on teachers’ pay.

Responses from reps in my Lewisham Association have unanimously opposed Gove’s attacks and overwhelmingly backed my suggestion that the NUT National Executive should set a date or dates for national strike action next term, giving teachers a clear plan to build for in the New Year.

Here are a few of their comments:

"This has the potential of developing a power based management not the supportive culture we need in schools, leading to increasing division between individual staff. It will also enable Headteachers and Governing Bodies to balance budgets by looking to reduce staffing costs where possible and not develop/implement a professional progression structure for teachers."

“This is an unprecedented attack on teachers that will, if passed, be a charter for bullying heads”

 “This has to be the most serious threat we have encountered. We have spoken to many members and their responses suggest huge anger and a desire to move towards escalating national strike action”.

“I think it’s time to demand an immediate pay rise of at least 10% across the board for all teachers, plus a campaign to go back to the original pay structure that existed a few years ago, backed up with strike action. The “gloves” are off, so no more “pussy-footing around”. If the other teacher unions are not prepared to join in the fight, then we go it alone this time”.

“If we let this one get passed we may as well give up trying to protect anything! We have to send a strong message to NASUWT and, if they are not prepared to join in on industrial action, we work on our own and attract more members as a result of our courage”.

“We need a calendar of significant strikes with multiple days signed in not just one or two isolated days”.

“I’m really worried that head teachers will be able hold back pay rises. No one wants bad teachers teaching. But the new fast track procedures are meant to deal with that. So why are the good teachers being attacked? To save more money? To give head teachers and school governors the right to balance budgets at the expense of hard working teachers? So I for one will not work through my lunch hour, stay late after school and work late in the evenings to ensure my pupils are taught to a very standard if teachers continue to be subjected to this assault”.

“I support the NUT Executive setting dates for action but I feel that Michael Gove is determined to put us in a position where we have no alternative left but to strike - in which case he will be able to portray us negatively in the press which he has greater access to. We desperately need to work harder to get our message across to the parents first and foremost”.

The only rep who wasn’t sure whether the NUT should set dates was seeking wider action: 

“I would like national strike action to be linked with other trades unions, not just teachers alone – a general strike”

I’ll finish with an email that I received tonight from a mature PGCE student. It exposes the hollowness of Gove’s claims that his attacks are about ‘raising standards’ and ‘rewarding talent’:

“I would like to express my deep concern about the very recent news regarding the change in expectations heralded by the government announcement this week"

“I was told that there was a shortage of physics and maths teachers and my Engineering qualifications, experience and maturity would be an asset to most schools. I was given an expectation that after training I would receive a starting salary above the minimum because of my experience and qualifications, I was also told that pay progression was automatic.   On this basis I was happy to pay £9000 to be trained, accept low pay to start and work hard in a stressful job; all to do something which I personally believe is of huge value to children and society as a whole”.    

“For my own part over Christmas I will re-consider my continuation on what could turn out to be a very expensive mistake; as it stands the rational choice for anyone with good qualifications and experience would be to withdraw”.

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