Monday 23 September 2013

Teachers must defend comprehensive education - because Twigg won't

My apologies to anyone sitting near me on the train as I travelled home from an excellent Hackney NUT hustings tonight. It's just that when I turned to page 30 of the Evening Standard (pictured), I couldn't help but vent my frustration!

Tonight's London Evening Standard
"More academies, more freedom" - if that's going to be Stephen Twigg's education policy for a future Labour Government then teachers should clearly not expect too much change in direction from whichever party, or parties, form the next Government. We will have to rely on our strength, and the support of our communities, if we are to successfully organise to defend education from cuts and privatisation.

Regrettably, Twigg's article is of no real surprise. Indeed, I  had already raised similar points at the Hackney meeting about the responsibility facing the NUT to lead the campaign to defend education. As I explained, the cost of our pay and pensions are a barrier to the profiteers seeking to gain from the privatisation of schools and other public services.  That's an important reason why they are being attacked. However, collective strike action can also provide the force that can help push back those attacks.

Of course, cuts to Local Authority budgets are already threatening teachers' jobs and vital educational services. The meeting voted to support action to oppose the threat to posts in the Hackney Inclusion Team.

The discussion inevitably centred on how best to build support for our ongoing campaign of action amongst both teachers and the wider public. A number of good practical proposals were made including a petition for NUT/NASUWT members calling for continuing coordinated strike action, organising campaign stalls to leaflet parents, and advertising an assembly point to bring local teachers together before they  travel  to the Central London march on October 17.

One school rep also explained that his Head was happy for a letter for parents to be drawn up explaining why the strike was taking place and, once agreed by the school, I hope I can circulate the text that is decided upon.

I was one of four candidates speaking at the hustings and was pleased to secure one of Hackney NUT's two nominations when the vote was taken. My thanks to Hackney teachers for their support - and for the nomination I received from Bristol NUT tonight as well.

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