Thursday 3 October 2013

Get rid of Gove before he gets rid of you

A report from the October NUT National Executive meeting:

50% of teachers are already quitting teaching within the first 5 years of starting their career. If Michael Gove gets away with worsening workload through his threatened deregulation of teachers’ conditions, even more teachers will be quitting the profession.

At today’s NUT National Executive Salaries Sub-Committee, reports were given of the meeting that the Union had with the Schoolteachers’ Review Body (STRB) to discuss Gove’s proposed changes to national conditions ( for a summary of these attacks, look under the ‘resources’ section to right ).

Few on the STRB have any educational background. Few will appreciate the sheer intensity of teachers’ working lives already – let alone if our conditions are made even worse.

Unfortunately, some who should know about those pressures, those giving evidence to the STRB from the headteacher unions, have failed to firmly oppose all of Gove’s proposals. For example, ASCL have suggested extending the leadership scale downwards to ‘middle leaders’. Of course, this would mean these over-worked colleagues would no longer be entitled to additional TLRs and would be excluded from the limits on working hours/days set down in the current STPCD.

Other suggestions apparently include the idea that PPA time could be ‘rolled up’ into days over the term into one block of time. However, Heads will still be expecting teachers to plan, prepare and assess every week – but perhaps without dedicated weekly PPA time to do it in!

Some have apparently also suggested that the Teachers’ Standards mean that teachers need to work more than 1265 hours a year. Of course, every teacher already works far longer than those hours, after-school, in the evenings and at weekends. However, our contractual limits at least mean that teachers can refuse to attend additional meetings and teaching sessions that exceed them. Gove wants to clear away any such protection.

Teachers will be incredulous that any Minister should propose that our impossible workload could be made even worse. Gove, however, may be considering a crafty ruse to undermine opposition to this attack. The Committee discussed a suggestion that, following the example of some Academy Chains, teachers might be invited to sign-away their protections in return for some kind of additional salary supplement.

‘Bribing’ employees to sign-away their rights is, of course, not a new tactic for employers. However, there is a danger that some teachers, already leaving work many hours after the end of the school day, might think that they might as well accept an ‘extra payment’ for what they are already doing. That would be a huge mistake to make. Once teachers sign away national protections, they will be at the mercy of their individual
employer’s demands. The preparation and planning that they are doing after-hours will still need to be done – but on top of further after-school classes and meetings.

Teachers might not only be working longer days. They could well be also working more of those days per year. That's because Gove is also seeking to deregulate school holidays and extend our working year over 195 days.

Instead of allowing Michael Gove to divide-and-rule and rip apart our national pay and conditions, teachers have to remain resolutely together and take united action until these attacks are defeated.

The STRB is due to report its 'findings' in the New Year. Michael Gove then has to announce his final decision on the changes he intends to impose. The strength of our strike action in October - already successfully shown on Tuesday - and what must follow nationally in November and beyond, will be the force that can persuade Gove to pull back from these disastrous attacks on teachers and education.

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