Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Gove threatens 'illegality' & 'ofsted failure' to bully Heads on PRP
Gove has stepped up his bullying tactics even further today by writing a threatening letter to schools trying to warn Heads and Governing Bodies away from adopting a pay-policy in line with the checklist being circulated by the NUT and NASUWT.
Gove' s letter and accompanying 'information for schools' [see: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/careers/payandpensions/a00203870/strb-remit-21st-report ] makes a mockery of the idea that he stands for 'freedom' for schools to make their own decisions. This Government of privatisers are happy to grant 'autonomy' to schools in order to dismantle democratic control of education and tear apart staff terms and conditions. However, when Heads decide they might exercise their supposed 'freedom' to reject Gove's divisive performance-pay plans, he resorts to his usual threats and bullying.
Gove 's letter to schools claims that "the purpose of the pay reforms is to give schools the autonomy to attract, recruit and reward the teachers that they need". What Gove really means of course, is that the purpose of his 'counter-reforms' is to cut costs, dismantle national terms and conditions and to bully teachers into taking on even more workload.
Gove admits that "lt is for each school to decide, within the law, on the right pay policy for their local circumstances". That, of course, is exactly what schools who decide to stick with the NUT/NASUWT checklist will be doing! Instead of adopting divisive and damaging performance-pay schemes, those schools will be opting to stick largely by existing pay structures.
Gove doesn't like schools exercising that kind of 'autonomy' ! So, in the accompanying 'information for schools', Heads are warned that "the [NUT/NASUWT] checklist advocates a substantial and serious weakening of the process ... Any schools adopting this proposal would be acting unlawfully"
However, in a telling comment in an article in the Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10060390/Move-to-block-performance-related-pay-in-schools-illegal.html, Graeme Paton notes that "theoretically, heads could also face prosecution and a criminal record, although other aspects of education policy, such as caps on infant class sizes, are also enshrined in law and school leaders have not previously been hauled before the courts for flouting them" and that, of course, "DfE officials were unable to reveal how the measures will be enforced or the punishment for heads who flout the rules"
Of course, the threats won't just be about 'illegality'. The Telegraph article goes on to say that it "understands that heads who follow union instructions would be ... marked down in official Ofsted inspections, potentially branding them as "failures" ".
In response, Christine Blower, writing in an NUT press release this afternoon, has rightly commented that:
“ Michael Gove again demonstrates that whilst saying he wants to give schools more freedom, in reality he wants to impose his own ideas which have repeatedly been demonstrated as having no basis in evidence and as undermining, not enhancing, standards.
“Schools did not want the break-up of the national pay framework and the additional work which school-based pay negotiation would bring. The NUT/NASUWT pay framework enables schools to avoid all of this and early indications are that this is exactly what they wish to do.
“Clearly Michael Gove, having picked this up, is now seeking to bully schools by threatening that they will be acting illegally when they adopt our framework. His allegations are without foundation – as he knows – but his threats reveal the lengths to which he will go to impose his own ideas under the guise of freedom.”
Michael Gove's threats make clear that the stakes are getting ever higher. We are engaged in a critical battle for the future of teachers' terms and conditions, and for the future of children's learning conditions.
Some Heads may start to bend under Gove's dictats - and some, regrettably, will already be welcoming the chance to divide-and-rule through strengthening the grip of performance-pay in their schools.
We have to stand firm and insist schools abide by the NUT/NASUWT checklist. If not, then we have to take action locally and, above all, regionally and nationally as part of an escalating calendar of united strike action.
If Gove continues to try and 'up the ante', then the NUT and NASUWT will need to do the same in return and escalate the programme of strike action so that Gove, along with Heads and Governors, know that we are not going to back down in this vital struggle to defend teachers and education.
To download the NUT/NASUWT checklist for yourself, see: http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/joint-checklist-4pp--a4--8674-.pdf