Friday 15 November 2013

NUT gives notice for strike action at six Lewisham schools

As part of our national dispute with the Secretary of State, the NUT has issued notice for sustained strike action in six Lewisham schools to oppose pay and appraisal policies that fail to protect staff from the serious threats to pay progression allowed under Michael Gove's imposed performance-pay legislation.

Notice has been given for action to take place on Thursday November 28th, Tuesday December 3/Wednesday December 4 and Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday January 7/8/9.

That action has been suspended in two schools after staff felt that they had received sufficient commitments from Governors that their concerns will be addressed.

Strike action could still take place in the following two federations of schools:
Leathersellers' Federation

King Alfred Federation

In each case, the Federations have been proposing to implement policies in line, or largely in line, with model policies issued by Lewisham Council, policies which fail to meet the national NUT/NASUWT check-lists. Lewisham teaching unions have proposed a number of amendments to these policies covering issues like limiting the numbers of observations, avoiding any Teachers' Standards 'check-list' and making sure that decisions on pay are based on appraisal objectives, not additional factors such as 'gradings' of lesson observations.

In particular, the policies state that progression on the main pay range will be dependent on showing that observation is 'consistently good' based on Ofsted criteria. As the proposed observation policy at one of the schools regrettably makes clear, this could mean that a class where "Pupils find the strategies and tasks interesting. Most concentrate well and pay full attention to the teacher. However, some may lose interest and need to be reminded to concentrate by the teacher" would be graded as "Requires Improvement" and the teacher would be at risk of not receiving pay progression! As staff at a primary school meeting that I have just attended commented, "on a given day, that could be used to stop any teacher in London getting their pay rise".

At that meeting, just as at meetings at all the other schools,  NUT and NASUWT members voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting strike action. 

We still hope that the determination shown by the staff at these schools will convince Governors to agree to our proposals, just as, we are pleased to say, has happened in some other schools. Negotiations are continuing with Governors in the various schools next week which could still lead to action in some or all of the schools being suspended or withdrawn. However, if that is not the case, then strike action will be taking place to defend teachers and education from these damaging policies.

Please send messages of support to the school NUT reps via

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